You can put that white glaze away, unless your planning on building a urinal?'
My ceramics tutor wasn't keen on pristine, burnished clay with a surface of flawless glossy blankness. We were encouraged to be messy, both in the construction, decoration and finishing of our pieces. Colouring outside the lines was the only acceptable execution. The holy grail of wabi sabi was Raku, something exotic and impossibly out of reach, tutors talked about it like they were reminiscing about Glastonbury '79. Tales of unimaginable colour and texture achieved by incinerating their pots with a pair of slippers in a bin.
The high failure rate, and high chance of the class liability finishing the session with melted eyebrows and a welders tan meant it was an invitation only event. We all wanted in, I was in, both my pots ended the day looking like the sweepings up from an archaeological dig.
A quantity of decades later I'm at it again, still non the wiser but just as excited, armed with horse hair and feathers.
Christine Stevens, the artist responsible for the ceramics studio at Primary Studios runs occasional raku days, and I was booked in for a Sunday morning of discovery.
I've succumbed to you, you are utterly spellbinding.
A mind expanding experience of earth, fire and homemade lemonade.
The pieces that appeared out of the smoke, were partly due to my choice of glaze application, but mostly curtesy of the elemental magic that is unleashed by fire, air and water. Pots of pale ceramic, daubed with naive strokes of powdery pastel glaze entered the firing kiln, heated to 1000 degrees, then rapidly cooled in dense smoke devoid of oxygen, before finishing with a quench in the tin bath of revelation. The surface finish that emerged was a boiling mass in suspended animation, one, molten copper with glimpses of sky, another, Ariel the mermaid, all foaming watery greens and mirrored turquoise.
All my Sunday mornings should start with a bin on fire in a disused primary school car park.
When I returned home, smelling of bonfire, I stepped into a parallel universe of creation. The garden was full of smoke and people, I ventured deeper and was presented with the glossy blackened remains of BBQ'd halloumi.