Imagine you’ve just made a pot on the wheel that excites you – it ticks all the boxes.  A few days later you put it back on the wheel upside-down to turn the foot and finesse the shape – it’s looking great!  

You let it dry slowly in order to avoid any cracks before biscuit firing to 950C.  The firing takes over 8 hours. The following day you unpack the kiln to discover it’s all in one piece – you’re ecstatic!  

Now you decide on the surface decoration and spend time carefully applying the glaze and colours. You make sure the foot of the pot is completely free of glaze – don’t want it to stick to the kiln shelf do you!  

Now very carefully you place it in the gas kiln along with all your other pots; building layer upon layer of pots on shelves making sure they’re not touching each other.  

We’re at the final hurdle – the glaze firing to 1,300C which takes 11-12 hours and requires your constant attention, manually adjusting the flame and atmosphere in the kiln to achieve the perfect conditions.  At last the top temperature is reached – you can switch the kiln off! It’s been like a sauna in the workshop for the few hours and you’re exhausted! 

You now have 18 hours minimum of a nail-biting wait until you can open the kiln.  Eventually the kiln has cooled to around 200C so you can ‘crack’ open the door a take a sneaky peak inside and…….?!?!

Do you feel joy or disappointment?  In truth it’s usually a combination of both but the sense of achievement you feel when something works spectacularly well is so great it eclipses the pain of failures and it’s what makes the potting ‘journey’ so worthwhile.

Trevor Dyer

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