Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Madrid Anagama Kiln

May 2, 2009 the public was invited to the unloading of the Madrid Anagama Kiln in Madrid, New Mexico. It had been a year since the last firing. The anagama kiln had been built about 10 years ago. 'Firing' up this kiln is a very complex, labor intensive process. When everything does work well, however, they end up in some very lovely and unique wood fired pottery. Inherent within the process is a high mortality rate. Click on the links provided to find out more about this process and click on the link for the Madrid Anagama Kiln as there are many videos on it that document the process. Artist, Jesse Scott is the one who does the narrating and filming.

I heard about this place 8 years ago when I was a taking art classes at the University of New Mexico. I think it's existence is tied into grant money received via the University of New Mexico. This is the top view looking down at the structure.

And, from the bottom, looking up.

The kiln does seem to have a life of its own; personification as a dragon couldn't be more appropriate.

Since there is a high mortality rate, there are a lot of pottery shards as a result. I love this effigy on top of the pile of shards that sum up how the artists feel about things that didn't work out. I really had to practice restraint to not just dive into that piles of shards and collect some to take home. That inner raven in me was squawking pretty loud! I might get the nerve up to ask permission to go and collect some of these discards. I'll figure out later what I will do with them.

I believe that these fabulous black bird heads are done by Melanie Wegner, but I'm not entirely sure. They were truly captivating. To give you a sense of scale, these heads were about the size of a child's head.

Over 600 pieces were loaded into that kiln and it took a lot longer than the artists had planned to get everything out. This was due to the fire getting too hot in many areas of the kiln. Even some of the shelves had 'melted'! So much time and work goes into doing this, that I can't even imagine loosing even one piece.

I don't know which artist did these little black birds (not Melanie), but they seem to be quite happy to have made it out in one piece.

I did buy a lovely teapot from Ben McCracken. The teapot's lid had suffered a bit in the firing and was chipped on the edges. I think Ben was surprised that someone would want to buy it! I don't know if I'll ever use it as a teapot (it does function), but it does make for a lovely tabletop sculpture.

Please do check out the blog link for this kiln; the videos are short and fascinating. Also check out the list of artists that put a lot of effort into this project.


Hey Harriet said...

Those blackbird heads are awesome! What a great creative space! I'm sure people wouldn't mind you salvaging the discards to re-purpose them. I think it's a nice idea to rescue them and give them new life :)

Paula said...

I think my friend Katie Sheridan has told me about time when she has been to this place.


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