Monday, March 5, 2012

9 Weeks and Counting

The year is 2000; doomsday predictions have come and gone and the world as we know it still exists.  The OPA, along with the world has moved into the 21st century.  And with that, the Oregon Potters Association celebrated its 20th Anniversary.  In 2000, Rhoda Fleischman was the OPA President, Margie Adams was the Chair of Ceramic Showcase and this was overheard at the May General Meeting:

"You don't want to get too technical because then you have to buy too much stuff."  by Craig Martell

And Janet had this to say in the OPA newsletter:

A conversation the newsletter editor has with herself: "I think it’s the Wednesday after Showcase, or is it Thursday morning? It might be, and the anagama kiln is heating up. It’s gotta be about 3am, I hope it is, then I’d be about half way through this shift. This kiln is pretty easy to fire, it only needs stoking every 5 to 10 minutes. Speaking of which, I’ll be right back... Where was I? Oh yeah, I think I can read the board minutes before the next stoke... When I saw those ads for sport utility vehicles where the guy is sitting in the woods with his fax machine, cell phone, laptop computer, etc, I thought that guy must be a pretty sorry person, out in the woods with his computer? But here I am with the laptop next to the anagama firebox. Kinda like a dweeb potter, I guess. Oh well (oops, the kiln’s getting quiet again. Gotta stoke). It’s the middle of our weird mid-May cold snap and my hands are cold. I wonder how much closer I can get this computer to the firebox? Speaking of weird, what is that lumpy stuff in my tea? Maybe I should have used fresher milk, but this is the last cup of tea in the thermos and I’ll drink it anyway. I should have brought some strong coffee, but I drank too much coffee during Showcase. I wonder how much soot I can imbed in my computer and still have it function? The battery won’t hold a charge, but I can always run an extension cord from the light fixture...Gotta go fill the wheelbarrow with wood now. Wow, the mouse that lives under the extra kiln shelves just hauled off a quarter slice of bread (it’s a tiny mouse). This kiln must be getting hotter, it sure is burning wood faster. I’ll bet we run out of wood for the side ports sometime tomorrow night. And people wonder why this newsletter doesn’t always make sense..."

I asked Craig about his process and how his work has evolved over time and this is what Craig had to say:

Best of Show 2000
Craig Martell
"The covered jar that won Best of Show 2000 really began it's evolution in 1994 when I started doing all the slip decoration with ash glazes.  Prior to that I'd been doing some very "quiet work" with an emphasis on form and glaze.  I liked the work and was happy making that stuff but it was selling slowly and since I'm full time at making pottery I needed to plump the bottom line.  So I started doing some work in my sketch book and came up with some geometric sorts of designs and worked on them for a few years with an idea to abstract them a bit.  They were sort of stiff and stodgy at first.

What really helped soften the final result and abstract the designs was using ash glazes which can be very fluid, resulting in a lot of bleeding and moving of color.  So things were moving along OK and I started working with a lot of color tests and different methods of applying the slips.  What I finally came up with was a many staged approach to doing the decorating.  First, I sprayed large areas with colored slips and then brushed designs were painted over and finally I would add white and black lines, spirals, etc, with the aid of slip trailers.  This was all done when the pots were green (unfired).  The work was then bisque fired, given a liner glaze inside and then sprayed with ash glazes.  Finally firing the work to cone 10 in my gas kiln.

I'm still doing this kind of work but not exclusively any longer.  After all, the whole gig is really discovery as well as making sure you have enough in the bank.  Some of the newer work still employs slips and a lot of the old technique but with some different approaches to form, surface and glaze.  Hopefully, I'll be seeing some new light thru an old window or something like that.  The journey is more satisfying than the destination from what I've experienced, so we'll see where it goes."

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