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the education of joyce lee and me

updated fri 24 apr 98


Bacia Edelman on thu 23 apr 98

It is really wonderful to read responses to Joyce's dilemma about the "ugly
gray foam" on her newly mixed Shino glaze and all the responses encouraging
her to learn to love the foam and the resultant textures on the fired pieces.
Then she gets so excited with her new view of the foam.
Both liking the heavily applied Shinos and even wood-fired surfaces take a
kind of training and exposure. Like learning to like olives except that my
2 yr. old granddaughter adores them.
I remember when first seeing a tea bowl with the crawly heavily applied
white Shino and thinking "It looks as if someone became sick in or on that
piece." In fact, if you have Jack Troy's book (I had been looking for a
photo of the tea bowl but can't find it) there is a B and W photo of a
shallow bowl by Australian Robert Barron. A couple yrs. ago I would have
said "Oh dear!" Now I think "I wish it were in color."

About 2 yrs. ago, since mostly I only have access to electric kiln firing
now, I was weighing up some newly tested glazes with spodumene and perhaps
mixed small amts. in a blender, and it took weeks for the foam to subside.
I wrote to Clayart, and then Bill Amsterlaw and I had an e-mail exchange
where he explained that there were 2 kinds of Spodumene, one chemical grade
etc. I'd have to search my files to find it if anyone is desperately curious.
And the same thing, to an extent, with woodfiring. I wrote last October to
you all when the "kind potter who teaches art in a high school near here"
invited me to place some work in his woodfiring kiln's second firing.
I might as well tell you who he is, since he reads Clayart now and even has
written. It is Randy Becker (and he is still very kind!!!) I had been
learning to love the surfaces, partly from seeing photos in Troy's book and
articles in some of the journals. But it takes a kind of training. I must
say that the BUG about woodfiring has bitten me hard!

One more illustration of needing to get used to it. The only way I could
get to NCECA these last 2 years was to have someone stay with my husband,
who is in fragile health. Each time it was a daughter who lives abroad and
came to be with her Dad and who always takes one or more of my pieces home
with her. This time she only had room for something small to go in her
carry-on and chose one of the cups I had eked out to take to NCECA, (had
made a couple extra). It was ordinary, c/6, not bad, but I tried to give
her a soy bottle I had thrown (I dont use wheel very often now) and fired in
October's wood kiln. Just a flashing slip on it, not bad at all, in fact in
surface resembling Clennell's jug in Troy's book. But, she said, it doesn't
have much going for it even though I need a soy bottle. She did take it
home. I have heard no more about it.
Her education is not complete perhaps.

Well, this is long. Randy Becker will do his 4th firing around July 4th to
which I have been invited to place a couple pieces, and I have bought some
high fire white stoneware and might make a few pieces as well with some of
the aged porcelain I used in October. I am excited and looking for more
time to work.

Bacia Edelman in Madison, Wisconsin balmy, sunny weather here at last