Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Alchemy, Hard Science and Magic.

As most of you Potters know, our work is heavily science based. A fairly decent understanding of chemistry, and physics is necessary to being able to produce consistant results in your work. To make exceptional glazes, to create new forms and push the limits of your clay body, your glazes, and your equipment you have to grock the sciences. We potters are part engineer, part electrician, part artist, but most of all, we are mad pyromaniacal scientists. Get a few potters together, add some wine/beer/coffee and soon the topics turn to unity formulas, heatwork, glaze fit, expansion and contraction, reduction atmospheres, carbon trapping...the list goes on, and just gets geekier and geekier in the process.

A few days ago, as I stood over my kiln , oven mitts at the ready, my neighbour (friend/landlord/physicist) walked in. We chatted while he puttered around a bit, stacking wood, sorting some recycleables and eventually he asked if I was going to open it.

When I popped  the lid,  I gasped and blurted out

"It's just like magic!!!"

 When I heard myself say those words to a real honest-to-goodness Scientist, an expert even. I must admit,  I cringed a little inside. I know how much actual science happens to get these pots to this point. I do that science, for Gawd's sake!

My followup was nearly as brilliant.

"Maybe it's a bit more like Alchemy" I say.

(Sometimes my mouth gets ahead of my brain. I blame it on a lack of caffiene in my system.)

He laughed, and said something to the effect that he gets the science behind it all, but agrees, when that lid gets closed, its all about the magic...

I had forgotten, that he was raised by a Potter/Alchemist/Magician..........