I have always been an artist in one form or another, and it bleeds into activities that might not generally be considered art. In terms of visual art, I have had a strong connection to ceramics for many years--I have always liked working sensitively with my hands. The pieces on this website are examples of my most recent work (done within the last five years).
At the time I started creating pieces using the low-fire techniques you see here, I did not know that I was engaging in a yin practice! I do remember thinking that I did not want to worry about making my work do anything, but rather be beautiful and harmonious. I took that idea as far as I could, drawing out the many stages of the creation process of each piece in what seemed to be a decadent disregard for time. During the process of creation, I decided I wanted to pay attention to every detail until it felt right (balanced and harmonious) and release myself from the idea of needing to be productive. I also wanted to explore beautiful shapes that had no practical utility. And finally, though I spent so much time attending to and refining my graceful shapes, I combined this with a relatively unpredictable firing method in which the surface patterns would be out of my control and, because these are low-fire techniques, the resulting work would be fragile (not vitrified) and might even be destroyed in the firing process! Fortunately, that has rarely happened. As a result, the pieces you see below and in the gallery are totally nonfunctional--they serve no purpose--they are sculptures, or meditative objects.
More about the technique
This pottery is made using a low-temperature firing technique: either horsehair or barrel-fire. Both of these processes have interesting histories--horsehair has its roots in the Native American southwest, and barrel firing is a variant of pit firing, which is the oldest way to fire pottery. I find these styles appealing because of their simplicity. The work is not glazed; instead, it is burnished (rubbed with a smooth stone), which produces the glassy surface.
I throw these pieces on the wheel, trim them carefully, and burnish them before firing them to a low temperature in an electric kiln. Then, for the horsehair technique, the pieces are heated up again to an even lower temperature (1000 F), taken out of the kiln while hot, and hair, feathers, or other substances are applied. In barrel firing, the pieces are packed into a metal barrel with combustibles and oxides, and all are set on fire. In either case, once everything has cooled down, the pieces are washed and waxed. Both techniques produce one-of-a-kind, atmospheric surfaces with serendipitous effects.