The sculptures are made from commercially available white stoneware or porcelaneous clays. I usually use B Mix Wood, from Laguna or Ben’s Mix from Sheffield Pottery in Massachusetts. After I wet the clay, I blend in an equal parts mixture of silica sand and molochite to strengthen the clay and reduce shrinkage,
The sculptures are hollow inside and the sculptures are formed by building them up with coils of clay which are pinched and manipulated to thin the walls and make the form of the sculpture. I always have an idea when I begin a sculpture, but the idea almost never survives the process. Instead, I react to the sculpture as I make it. My ideas tend to come from art and human artifacts. Never from the natural world.
The sculptures are fired in a wood burning kiln located on the edge of my daughter’s and son in law’s property in Charlton NY, not too far from Schenectady.
Images of the kiln are in this site. It is a two chamber climbing kiln modelled after similar
Japanese 17th century kilns and was completed in 2009. It has room for about 75 cubic feet of ceramics.
The purpose of firing with wood is to acquire a surface that is very different from the surface resulting from any other method of firing. The particular surface varies with the clay used ( I never apply glazes to the sculptures), the wood used ( I have been firing with Black Locust), the length of the firing ( We fire continuously for a little more than three days), the weather, the placement in the kiln,and numerous other issues. I have some idea of what to expect based on previous firings, but I never know and am always surprised.
There are a number of ceramicists who put work in the kiln and help with the loading, the firing, and the unloading. I want to thank them, with a particular nod to Jim Sankowski, a wonderful potter and a good friend, who recently died.