Friday, November 28, 2008

Donna Craven

"I learned much of what I know about pottery by working in the studios of the Seagrove potters, and by much trial and error. There, I learned a great deal of respect for tradition, refinement, and repetition. Drawn to the elegance of wheel-thrown forms, I am guilty of getting lost, in forms alone.

My pots are wood-fired and salt glazed. Whether using glazes or just clay, wood-firing gives the pots a rich, wild, sometimes rough surface, reminding us of where they came from. The pots are fired in a small groundhog kiln, 3' wide, 5' long, and 3' high in the center of the sprung arch. Being so involved in the firing process is as enjoyable as it is all-consuming. Conceivably, the kiln is small enough for one person to fire alone, but I like to share the joy with my mom and Ruby Auman. (Thanks guys!)

We do a fairly short firing of approximately 15 hours using all pine, after an overnight preheat up to about 550 degrees F. using propane. The peak temperature is about 2,450 degrees (cone 12) in the front, and slightly cooler in the back. We start side-stoking, to even out the temperature differences, when cone 6 drops in the back and cone 10 is down in the front. I "reduce" the oxygen content early on in the firing, and again sometimes toward the end of the firing. We throw 12 pounds of salt in the front of the kiln, and 10 pounds in the back, and then regain the temperature loss during salting, before crash cooling to about 1,950 degrees.

There are not too many occupations where you can create something, carry it all the way through to a finished product, sell it to someone who appreciates it, and actually make a living out of it. Once in a while, in my obsessive struggle to make the perfect pot, I'll pull a stunning pot from the kiln, only to find that it's imperfections are what have made it so beautiful. It's a lot of hard work - humbling, a great teacher, and an honor to be part of a globe-spanning tradition that is many thousands of years old. "


Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

dang, that is SOME gorgeous work

mandolinartist aka amanda said...

I like the texture... My own work has moved in a direction that uses and creates different textures, particularly with pen and ink drawing.

Linda Starr said...

Wow, beautiful pots with a timeless quality. The top pot is spectacular.

Hope you had a happy thanksgiving, I just love sour cream apple pie.

cookingwithgas said...

Donna is so humble about her work. She is always surprised when someone likes it!
She is a tiny women about 5 feet- her work is wonderful-
the pie was great and will be put on as a family favorite.
It was a fun Thanksgiving and always great to have the kids here.

T.Gray said...

Donna rocks.