You put a slice of white bread in the toaster hoping for a lovely golden toast that you plan to slather with butter. A perfect treat on a rainy Saturday evening.
As you are laying the table, pausing to choose the perfect cup for the hot chocolate that accompanies your toast, a very unpleasant smell starts to waft from your kitchen.
Alarmed, you race to the toaster and realize that you have accidentally set it at the highest heat setting and the much anticipated golden toast is totally burnt…unsalvageable. You have no choice but to trash the toast and start over; that is, if you haven’t given up on the idea of the treat altogether.
A similar situation played out in my studio this summer. Every year I make a tree platter. A large platter carved with a live oak tree, inspired by the ancient live oak in our backyard.
It involves hours of carving and slow drying so I end up doing just one every year. After the platter was bone dry and ready for bisquing, I loaded the kiln with some other pieces and began the firing. My brain was already planning the layers of glazes that would go on the platter to make the tree come to life. It was the day before my birthday so after turning on the kiln I busied myself with my favorite part of the birthday celebration: cake preparation. It was to be a Chocolate Bomb Cake!
The next morning I woke up with a delicious sense of happiness fueled by the love and attention lavished by my family. It was only when I was getting ready that my thoughts turned towards my kiln and that’s when I realized the dreadful mistake that I had made. I had accidentally run the glaze firing program instead of the bisque firing program. So essentially my pieces were burnt toast…unsalvageable! Not the best birthday gift that I have given myself for sure.
So like the burnt toast, my tree platter is headed to the trash pile.
Now my choice is to start over or give up on the piece this year. And what do I intend to do? You will know the answer at the Texas Clay Festival. If you see a tree platter like the one below at the show, you’ll know which route I took.
Needless to say I have learnt a big lesson: Thoroughly check the firing program of your equipment, be it the kiln, the oven or the toaster.