Matt Yellow Teapot, 2005
Writing from the wilds of Maine, I wanted to introduce AT readers to the beauty of soda-fired and wood-fired ceramics by sharing a few functional pieces by Tyler Gulden, an artist who lives and works in mid-coast Maine and is Program Director for the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Newcastle, ME.
Caplid Jar, 2004 ∆10 porcelain, soda & salt fired, 5 x 7.5 x 7.5"
These days we have many opportunities to purchase wonderfully designed ceramic pieces, but many of these are mass-produced and very rarely bear the mark of an artists' hand or process – making it a one-of-a-kind work of art. Here we have the marriage of art, craft, process and, yes… the practical! Works of art you can enjoy and use every day in your home.
Above, bisque-fired tea pots before glazing… Below, after glazing and soda/salt firing.
Soda Green Teapot & Matt Yellow Teapot, 2005 ∆11 Porcelain, salt and soda fired, applied glaze 5.5 x 6 x 8"
Cups, 2004 ∆11 porcelain, wood & salt fired, wax resist and glaze 4 x 4 x 3.5"
All the pieces shown here are the products of particular firing processes that involve an interaction between glazes (all work above) or simply the bare clay (below) and materials such as salt, soda or wood ash that have volatized inside the kiln while the pieces fire. The process of firing in this manner often yields unexpected results, despite the most careful calculations and consistent technique. The forms may stay similar, but the results will always be unique. A quality I admire in my coffee cup and tea pot!
Woodfired Bottle, 2004 ∆10 porcelain, 24 hour wood fire, natural ash glaze 6 x 3.5 x 3.5"
Vase - 17 inches, porcelain, wood fired 24 hours, natural ash glaze.
And there is something satisfying to me, knowing that a piece like the one above, and those below, withstood temperatures of up to 2400 degrees F, for upwards of 24 hours in a wood fired-kiln…the artist keeping vigilant watch over the temperature, standing outside in the cold, the hot, the rain, or the snow, shoveling in firewood as needed. And that the magnificent glaze is the melted minerals and alkalies from the wood ash. Period. Nothing else is applied to the clay.
24 hour wood firing, natural ash glaze and encrustation from ash bed. Bottles are about 12-14 inches high, the jar about 18 inches high.
The artist is considering creating a series of these bottle forms (above) as bases for lamps. What do you think?
In the artist's words:
Form and surface, fit and finish, balance and weight (as appropriate to the use of an object), comfort, a sense of generosity and ease in the use of the material (read, not-fussy), are paramount concerns in the making of my pottery.
From a conceptual standpoint - an object can satisfy through mere presence; however, when engaged in a purpose, the object as a vehicle for satisfaction, is transformed and transforms; its user is synchronized in the purpose of its design and in the moment of use wherein an ontological shift occurs from consumer to consumed.
Prices for these one of a kind pieces range from $30-40 for cups, tumblers and plates, $80 for jars/vases and $120-140 for tea pots and larger jars. Wood fired work is a bit more expensive, running from $80 – $300. It is also more erratic in both its appearance and availability.
You can see Tyler's work at the following galleries In New England and LA:
8413 West Third St. Los Angeles, CA 90048
Local Pottery, 26 Washington St. Pembroke, MA 02359
Shelburne Art School
54 Falls Rd. Shelburne, VT 05482
Feel free to contact the artist with questions or comments, he is a terrific guy and happens to be my brother. Happy New Year! - Amy Chase