Mansfield, Janet, Ceramics Art & Perception
To be an editor as well as a practising potter means that one has the best of both worlds. Invitations to events that involve speaking and writing are matched by requests to give workshops. Both offer me the chance to meet many people in the ceramic field. I find subjects for articles as well as subscribers for the magazine and I can learn new ways in an exchange of technical knowledge as happens in a workshop situation. The instructor can find fresh ideas equally at the same time as the students are absorbing a different approach to ceramics. A fine group of potters and ceramic artists were gathered at Peters Valley Crafts Centre in Layton, New Jersey, US, when I arrived to lead a workshop in woodfiring in June 2007.
The pace was productive, not only were we to decorate pieces for firing in the two-chambered woodfiring kiln but the students were making work for the bisque firings as well. I had taken my list of glazes suitable for woodfiring and also for the salt-glaze or second chamber of the kiln. These were made up and together with the studio's usual glazes we had about 30 bucketsful, some with exotic names, from which to choose. Every potter takes a different approach to firing and this is particularly so with woodfiring where the results can be as varied as the personal aesthetic choices of the person in charge. Every kiln has its own character and the Peters Valley kiln with its many stoking holes was no different. But the temperature was reached and there was still time to play with ash deposits and flashing effects. …