The students are fabulous at problem solving. Alexandra took her knowledge of wood burning stoves to set up a schedule for the second team to mix the oak and the scrap wood for optimum heat and then for the third team, Monique designed a sandwich of a layer of poplar or pine, then oak, and then a layer of poplar and pine again. The temperature rose nicely but stalled and then we used only a mixture of poplar and pine to finish the firing. Ms Zhang cannot wait to open the kiln; she noticed all the beautiful colours in the ember bed. And once again we are all grateful to Keith and his table saw and Matt for bringing batteries that worked for the Oxyprobe. All of the students showed up and the first entry in the log book showed that the temperature today was warmer than when we fired in October. The wind wasn’t a problem either. The only nuisance was the damp.
Wool really helped! There was food and laughter and well…did I say blessed? We will open the kiln together on Friday but it is hard to wait. Oh, and leave it to Monique – she decided to burn an entire pallet!
As I began to prepare for my talk on the marginalization of women within the wood fire community (or women ceramists in general) at LaBorne in a few weeks, I took the opportunity to do what was done earlier with art history survey texts: I started to examine the inclusion of women in publications on the subject.
In 2011, Mansfield Press, owned by the late Janet Mansfield (herself an internationally respected woman who fired her work with wood), published Owen Rye’s The Art of Woodfire: A Contemporary Practice. The book has a statement from Rye on why he is so passionate about wood firing in addition to a discussion on the aesthetics, history, and materials and processes of this very physical method of working with clay. There are pages devoted to individual artists alongside beautiful (and large) images of their work and kilns. Most discuss their choice of wood firing over other methods or what inspires them. My objective was a little different.
The book was written in response to to an exhibition which was held at the Front Room Gallery in Gulgong, NSW, eventually travelling to all of Australia in 2011. But it is much more than a catalogue and the discussions could be applied to the concerns within the wood firing community internationally. Rye included a discussion of the 24 artists within the exhibition. Of these the women represented include the late Janet Mansfield, Sandy Lockwood, Barbara Campbell-Allen (including a large photo of her anagama kiln in Kurrajong, NSW opposite an image of a vase and a bottle), and Carol Rosser. Mention was made of others including Gwyn Hanssen Pigott and Moraig McKenna whose lovely wood fire porcelain was featured in two photographs.
Would I like to see at least half of the attention go to women? Absolutely. But a gold star has to go out to Owen Rye. Many of the other publications do not include a single woman. Stay tuned!
The permit is in hand, the materials are on site or on their way, and excitement is beginning to stir. It is just 16 days away from the first day of the wood kiln workshop at the School of Art, University of Manitoba. I have opened up 2 additional spaces for another lucky 2 people to join us. If you know of anyone, please let me know. The fee is $325 – a bargain. If you are coming from out of town, there is accommodation at St John College for $55 per day and that includes three meals. Feel free to contact me for further information or any questions you might have. It is a great group coming from Budapest, Vancouver, Maple Creek, Red Deer and Winnipeg!
The enthusiasm over the building of our new ‘sweet’ kiln that one person can fire or a group, with wood effects or full-blown ash, has spread from the West coast of Canada to Denmark! There are now only three places left in the workshop. If you or anyone you know is interested, do not wait. The workshop goes from June 21-30 and that includes a firing and the cooling of the kiln. Lots of hard work and great rewards and an opportunity to learn from Markus Boehm. So happy to have him on board. The cost is $325. Does not include accommodation or meals or travel to Winnipeg. Will include a few smaller pieces fired in the kiln. They must be cone 10 clay and arrive bisque. No glaze. We supply the glaze.
If you have questions, get in touch with me – but, this is first come so don’t hesitate. Write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org