I don’t know if I mentioned this before but I‘ve been taking ceramics classes for the past five or six months. I took my first ceramics class way back in my LA days. Back when the weather was warm enough and dry enough that I could throw a bowl, plate, or mug at the beginning of class, set it outside to start drying, and by the later part of class it had reached what is called the “leather hard” stage and I could trim the bases, or attach handles etc. This also meant that we had ceramic pieces at various stages of completion, as our teacher was constantly bisque firing* and glaze firing** through out the class.
For me this was a wonderful thing. I love surprises and every time I arrived for class there was always the excitement of not knowing if I would have a completed piece ready to make its journey home with me. The excitement and anticipation was half of the fun. My class here in Stockholm is operated somewhat differently but no less exciting. Due to the small space of the studio however, we make all of our ceramic pieces during the first seven sessions and glaze everything on the eight and final class day, when the studio is transformed from a ceramic “verkstad” into a “glaze studio.”
(“Fågelbo” – birdhouse)
Buckets of glaze are placed in nearly every nook and cranny and my classmates and I carefully “ursäkta,” or excuse ourselves, as we tiptoe around the studio, gently holding our pots and bowls with metal tongs, dipping our pieces in what hopefully will turn out to be a beautifully, glazed finish. On “glaze day” of my most recent ceramics class, which was just a couple of weeks ago, our teacher mentioned that we could expect to get our finished, glazed pieces back in a month’s time. She would be taking a lovely vacation to Italy and, well, it just takes that long to fire up the kiln*** repeatedly to accommodate the literally hundreds of pieces that are made during eight weeks of day, evening and weekend classes.
(A kanelbulle plate??!)
So imagine the surprise and delight when I arrived for the first day of my third class term (last night) to discover my cupboard filled with all of my completed glazed pieces. It is like Christmas day. One never know how a piece will turn out in the end and it is always exciting to see if the glaze took well and/or if the piece managed to keep from exploding. There could also be cracks, which there were a couple, and there could be areas where the glaze for some reason didn’t reduce well, which, though not completely obvious, there were a few also. Or there could even be unexplained defects, such as a small, hard, sharp brown bump on the inside of one of my biggest pieces to date (sad face).
(Tea for two… or two for tea)
But not to worry, one comes to love and expect such defects and imperfections with this wonderful and extraordinary, organic craft. All in all I was very happy with the outcome and I happily packed up as much as I could carry, and still run to catch the bus, and made my way home to let my husband open them up and revel in the surprise and excitement all over again.
(Fika ready tray)
*The first firing that removes all traces of dampness from the piece.
** The final firing after the piece has been dipped in a glaze that hardens into a glass outer-shell and becomes a beautiful shiny or matt finish, depending on the type of glaze selected.
***The oven where ceramics are baked on their final journey to completion.