In the past I had a pretty narrow view of pottery and all that it represented, often assuming that anything made with clay would ultimately resemble a canister set with a typically standard - often boring - glaze design, but all that has changed. Well, actually the field of ceramics probably hasn't changed as much as my perception of it has, especially when viewing ancient pottery from China and Japan whose styles still influence potters today and are very much desired by art collectors throughout the world, including myself.
After completing my second quarter of ceramics, I have thus found that in this new era potters are getting creative and exploring many new diverse ways to design, glaze and fire pottery and one such Washington Potter who is leading the way is Bryan McGriff who works with Crystalline Glazes. I participated in a three part workshop last month and his work is extraordinary!
On the first day Bryan took us through the basics; showing us - the group - how he takes a few lumps of clay and turns them into bowls, vases, mugs and plates. I was impressed with just how clean his work area remained during and after the throwing phase, unlike myself who refuses to work without a full length apron that prevents me from leaving the studio covered from head to toe in clay!
He also discussed in great detail the particular clay he uses, preferring the porcelains which allow the effects of the crystalline glaze to have a greater impact on the finished piece. This glaze also has a tendency to run so he will construct tray-like forms that support the piece and collect any glaze drips, which prevent the glaze from damaging the shelves in his kiln - I told you he was devoted to cleanliness! The most aspect of using crystalline glazes is the firing technique which requires the heat level of the kiln to be accurately controlled and cooled down slowly which he achieves by using a computerised control on his kiln.
The second part of the workshop was held at Bryan's studio with Bryan focusing on trimming the pieces he made during the first workshop and we were able to glaze our own pieces with the crystalline glaze and then Bryan fired them. The third and final workshop was all about collecting our finished pieces. It was a thoroughly interesting workshop and truly inspiring!
* Just for clarification, this is one of Bryan's finished pieces, not mine.