Dragon Kiln Magic
July 19, 2010 § 2 Comments
Since I’m spending so much time in Ipoh, I had to find a place to get my hands mucky in clay… with some luck and help from aunt No. 2, I met Mr. Tan who is a third-generation potter/artist here. He and his dad run a pottery in Bercham, minutes away from my parent’s Ipoh home. They make really cool everyday traditional stuff, all slip-cast, like traditional salt jars, prayer items like incense stick jars, candle holders, and modern paraphernalia for the garden – ducks, gnomes and whatsuch!
So I spent two days throwing up stuff on the wheel there, using some interesting clays – a very fine yellowish white clay, and a very coarse smelly gray clay. These I mixed, trying to find the right mix for my style. I found out that mixing clay is something I don’t know anything about at all! So many pots cracked and were sacrificed at every stage – after forming, during glazing, and during firing, hairline cracks appeared and expanded, pots popped when covered with glaze (this may have to do with them not being bisqued beforehand though…). So much trial and error was really painful to experience!
Once glazed, the pots were delivered to Mr. Chin, who runs a dragon kiln – a Chinese wood-fired kiln that was built two generations ago – on Jalan Kuala Kangsar. In this kiln, they normally fire flowerpots, firing for 24 hours at a time. Beautiful pots that ring with a clear, high, sustained PINGGGG! The magic sound for ceramics 🙂 I entrusted my relatively tiny pieces into the giant maw of the dragon kiln, and these were the results…