Though I make a variety of objects from bowls to sculptures, my partner in clay and husband, Ross and I together make many platters that he fires in a barrel. After throwing a platter or pot, I burnish with a coat of terra sigillata slip, so the surface is a smooth and unmarked canvas, waiting for the mark of the fire. When dried completely, it is fired to harden the clay to over 1000 degrees and when removed from the electric kiln, is ready to decorate for the smoke firing.
For the next firing, the surface of the pot is covered with a cocktail of metal powders and other exotic materials which may include, fruit, vegetable, and out-dated pharmaceuticals. Then the piece is nested in a barrel filled with only Oregon hardwoods and fired quickly. The unglazed clay is permanently marked by carbon and the heating of the oxides and other organic materials. The design and the color is not certain. Each piece is a surprise, some a disaster. We often lose a fourth to cracking. And not all meet our standards. But these images show our best, the best of the best.
The surface is sealed with an acrylic spray. In this way, the piece will never get dirty. It can be cleaned with soap and water when necessary. Smoke-fired vases are not totally water proof, so some vases have glass inserts. The pieces are intended to be mainly decorative and should not be used for serving moist food, though could be used as a fruit tray, or with dry foods.