Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A first...... for me

During our last Second Saturday at the studios, I had a young man come in who was just looking around. What he found was something that he had been seeking for a long time, a vessel that was worthy of carrying the ashes of a deceased friend.

This is not unusual but for me it was a first. The vessel was among several that I had made during my first Certification class in TN. It wasn't something he noticed right away but only after I pointed out how it was made from all four forms of the clay; lump, syringe, paste and paper.

Since the basic vessel was already done, all I needed to do was add the ashes and seal it shut. ( I was rather nervous about the whole process as I wanted to treat everything with reverence and I wanted everything to work successfully.)

I finally decided to seal it with more silver clay. Metal clay is very porous. For that reason, a hollow form can be sealed and fired without fear of exploding (which ceramic clay would have done.)

Another thing I hadn't realized was that cremation does not burn everything down to a fine dust. Instead there are some pieces in the ashes that are bigger than what we think of as ash. I used a very small funnel to pour the dust through (and wore a mask.) But, I had to increase the size of the funnel a couple of times and use tweezers to remove the bigger pieces that kept clogging the funnel.

I also made two tops before I was satisfied with the results. Sometimes when wet clay is added to a finished piece, the wet clay cracks as it shrinks or it slips and slides. So, I torch fired the piece first so I could watch what it was going to do (and withdraw if it started to do something funky.) Everything went well there so I then fired it in the kiln to make sure it was a strong as possible.

Basically everything went smoothly (which is unusual) and the piece was ready for him to pick up last week.

The picture is not the best but it's the only one I have.

Next week is Arrowmont's Retreat. That will get me back into creating with the clay (been way too long) and give me lots to post about.

No comments: