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Pottery by: Richard Blackstone... All applied art and glaze work by: Linda Jean Thille
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Working with clay is about one of the most fun hobbies a person could ever have! Mud flying and mucking about in a squishy mess - Very therapeutic indeed!... Think of the movie, "Ghost"...

But it is also very introspective and humbling. Every time I take a glob of clay in my hands, my mind drifts to far distant lands and long forgotten times .... to the creators of fine ceramic ware which still survives today thousands of years after skilled hands put fire to their work. A great deal of our collective understanding of ancient civilizations comes from ceramic ware found in the areas where these people lived out their daily lives.
           When I set about to work with clay, I have found that I get the best results if I don't specifically sit down and say, "Now, I want this to become a vase." I may have some ideas of things I would like to make or may have a custom order that I know needs to be done. I simply allow those things to be in my thoughts, with the full knowledge that they will become a reality soon enough.
           As I knead a ball of clay into shape, I allow my mind to freely wander about. But, invariably, those rambling thoughts center and begin to focus on the clay in my hands. It's as though my mind and the clay begin to communicate with each other on another level. I know this may sound a little strange to many of you, but "they" let "me" know what will be created next. Most times it will be something I had already envisioned. Occasionally I will be surprised and be presented with a mental picture, while kneading away, of something I've never even thought of or imagined! On my ceramics gallery page there are several examples of this "I want to be me" phenomenon. Shiraz and the Pagoda urn are two good examples. And thusly, some of what I consider my very favorite pieces are created.
           The firing process, where the molecular structure of the clay is permanently transformed, usually consists of two to three separate firings at progressively lower temperatures. While the clay has partially dried, but is still malleable (the "leather hard" stage) it can still be shaped, incised, cut into; extra clay can be attached and/or molded, such as this, designs such as this can be painted on with "under" glazes (clay based paints that literally become a part of the piece) before it receives any "finish" or "outer" glazes applied in further firings. The first, and hottest, firing is called a 'bisque' fire. Most of the clays I use are slowly heated up to just under 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit....that's hot!!....and then slowly allowed to cool undisturbed. This cooling down process alone can be up to 24 hours. Not every piece makes it through this trial by fire. But those that do are then ready to be decorated with various "cover" or "over" glazes which basically consist of several carefully applied coats of clear or colored paint which when fired literally becomes a form fitting layer of glass that covers and protects the finished piece. Liquid mother-of- pearl, 24kt. gold and other exotic highlight coats can be applied as a final embellishment, but need an additional still cooler firing as these exotics would otherwise be completely burn from the pottery..
           Well, how about taking the time to go check out a few of the thousands of pieces I have created over the years. I hope you enjoy them
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