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“Kilning Me Softly”

I’m sitting here, breathing deeply, in and out, knowing that today I must fire a piece I have been working on for a few days. It’s a pendant with a bail. You should know, even the bail was difficult for me to do. It looked so easy on the video. Wrap some clay around a straw, let it dry and attach it to the piece. The problem is my bail was kind of crooked and not lined up properly around the straw to begin with. I half closed my eyes when looking at this because I just didn’t want to believe I could screw up a bail?

For those who don’t know what a bail is, and that’s probably no one, it’s a small tube for a chain or rope or anything to go through to hold up the pendant to actually wear.

Instead of just making a new and proper bail, I chose to “fix” this one. Why? Because in the making of this easy collage pendant, I somehow managed to do everything wrong. I forgot the back piece needed to be dry before adding on to it. I used two kinds of clay and I just cannot believe I can’t cut clay properly, do a texture nicely and attach it without getting water and paste all over my surface and hands.

I’ll have you know, I’ve been playing piano and guitar for over 40 years. Also, as a radio producer, back in the day, I used to splice tape to even edit a BREATH out of a sentence. Really, I do have skills.

Well, after attaching the bail and drying it and sanding it and strengthening it and seeing a line in it and covering that line and seeing where it was covered even after sanding again, I just said, FINE. Let it go.

I also made a very bold move by inserting a gem into the collage on the pendant, making a bezel out of the clay.

I ask you, why am I trying all these things at the same time? Two kinds of clay, gems with homemade bezels and bails? Because, I am a grown-up and I know I can do this. I’ve made other things before. All in silver, mind you, knowing I would just be using a torch. Ah, there’s the rub.

Knowing I will have to FIRE this in a KILN is what has been making me jumpy all along.

I’m not complaining. I wanted a kiln, begged for a kiln and even entered a contest and won a gift certificate for the kiln. I SOLD one of my electric guitars for a kiln and now I have one. (As an aside, I am also terrified to cook. I can make salads and sandwiches, but nothing that requires heat. Either I heat it too fast or too slow and it burns or it’s too raw. I am beginning to see a pattern here.)

At this point, I cannot take this piece any further. OK, it’s not a beautiful work of art or any type of great workmanship but I devoted myself to it and a commitment is a commitment. Now, I have to fire this sucker.

My next move is to make the fiber blanket box one of the experts swears by, put the some coconut carbon in (that’s just a whole other story) in it and insert the piece, program the kiln and hang around a few hours.

I’m sitting here. I don’t wanna do this (she says in a five-year-old voice)…Do I have to? Yes, I have to. Fine. I am going to take an hour or so to read and re-read the firing schedule and the programs and ramps, holding, temps and make sense of it. I have only done this once before and after an hour and a half I saw a red glow inside the kiln. There was a small fire burning. That’s also another story but you can appreciate why I haven’t left this chair yet.

I have a blog to write. I have dishes to do. I need to check on my kids through FaceBook. Then I will go downstairs, where the kiln is and pray.
Let’s join hands and I will let you know how everything turns out. Oh wait, I forgot, I also have some socks that need matching.

Melody Pierson
“Make clay while the sun shines!”

Metal Clay Today is proud to introduce our newest guest blogger. We are exxcited that she will be joining our blog from time to time. I hope you all will welcome her! LP