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FOG, or Fear of Glazing

My favorite thing about ceramics is the making that happens before the pieces go into the kiln. I love to throw pots on the wheel, I love to coil build unusual shapes. I love to press things into slabs and build things out of those slabs. I even love making pinch pots, and enjoy experimenting with the different shapes I can get with a single ball of clay. When the pieces are leather hard, it is so fun to carve repetitive patterns into them, when I'm in the mood. Adding little barnacles, or flowers can also be fun, and at times even theraputic. So if I ask myself why do I make things out of clay, my answer would be mostly, for fun!

Wheel thrown and carved vase by Brooke Peiffer

My least favorite thing about ceramics is having to make the decision about glazes. What color? Glossy or matte? Pattern or solid? Underglazes? Decals? Lustres? China paint? Engobes? Ugh.

Sometimes sculptural pieces will sit for months, or years, unglazed because I can't make up my mind what to do with them. I'm afraid I will ruin them. FOG. They become precious. It's silly, and a little embarrassing.

Unfinished sculpture by Brooke Peiffer

I am in awe of artists that seem to have developed a really unique style with their work, with both form and surface, and can only image that it took a unique vision and tons of testing to get it right. Hundreds of test tiles, and hours, and firings.

When I set up my little home studio, I made the decision to use commercially prepared glazes, as I try to keep as many chemicals and toxins out of our home environment as possible, and wet clay and glazes are bad enough. This has helped to limit my options somewhat. Over the years I have tested hundreds of commercial glazes. My husband (who died of cancer at age 37) and I used to do little test tiles and keep charts and layer everything with everything to see what interesting effects we could come up with. Now that it's just me, I just throw stuff whatever glazes onto little bowls or whatever odd pieces that are hanging out in my studio, (and I have a lot of them) just to see what happens. I do keep track of what I did, so I can repeat it if it's cool.

So why don't I do real, methodical testing? I'll tell you why, it's not fun. I don't like it. I'm a little immature and unorganized. I don't wanna.

So, I continue to open each kiln load with great anticipation of something amazing. I mean, is there anything more exciting than getting that first peek of a glazed kiln load? SOOO fun. But of course, the results are usually horrible, or just okay. I'm rarely surprised in a good way. I know that I am really my own worst enemy here, and that one day I'm going to have to grow up and get serious about that glaze testing, if I'm ever going to finish some of these pieces, and I will... I promise. ;)

Unfinished sculpture by Brooke Peiffer

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