Here in the "Greater Sydney" we have been in lockdown for over 8 weeks now. When the outbreak of Covid-19 (Delta) hit Sydney in early July I was lucky to have just completed a short run of classes here at Lilli Pilli Studio and I was busy bisque firing my students pots ready for them to come back and glaze in early August. Then Covid stopped us in our tracks. At least we managed the "making workshops"! The students pots remain in the studio waiting for a time when their creators can return to clothe them in a glaze.
I'm very fortunate to have had a large and exciting project waiting in the wings to occupy me. Last year I took the plunge and asked my mentor and teacher, Sandy Lockwood, if she would be prepared to be commissioned to design me a wood kiln. I have been attending Sandy's throwing and wood fire workshops for the past 7 years and they have been a valued place of joy, inspiration and artistic retreat. My pottery journey started in the mid 1970's at Margaret Tuckson's studio in Sydney. We fired work in her little earthenware wood kiln each winter. Inspired by these women and other potters, over the years my desire to fire all or most of my work with wood has steadily grown.
For the last 10 years I have been reaching out for someone to help me build and design a kiln that I can use as an ageing potter and would work on our fairly awkward steep property. I knew that I needed to remove some large invasive non-indigenous trees before building a kiln safely. With time this happened in 2020. Then there were health issues of both myself and other family members. The process of preparation has been slow and it has made it difficult to commit to the project.
I am no spring chicken. I knew that building a wood kiln would be a challenge for me and something I couldn't just build, design and improvise on without guidance. I was also very aware that this would be a project that I would need to be able to tackle largely on my own as my studio is run solely by me, no apprentice or other willing workers. All of these considerations made the final choice simple .My familiarity with Sandy' s "Pony" kiln seemed like a comfortable old friend. Having packed and fired it many times I understand to some degree how it is built and how it fires. My version would need some small changes in order to accommodate my sculpture and it would also need to be a little more modest in size as I would often be firing for shorter hours with fewer assistants. So Sandy has designed me my dream kiln, and I have started to build it in the current lockdown.......I may be some time! I am working slowly and steadily and hope that in the winter of 2022 I will commence firing my work in my own wood fire kiln 'The Sandy-Lucinda'(Lucinda after the street that Margaret lived in) or 'The S-L Kiln'
Because we live on a battle axe block and our driveway is steep delivery of bricks ,clay and materials only comes to the top of the driveway.Then I have to cart it down to the studio and kiln site. It is a big job.
But things are in progress
and the garden is showing signs of Spring