I asked if Richard could tell me "What's in the water here?" How has St. John's University achieved so many groundbreaking creative projects over the decades? His answer was so thorough that I felt guilty for the effort he put into explaining. He basically came to the point that there have been visionary leaders desiring the greater good. People here have been willing to dream, and willing to work for dreams. He talked about college presidents and professors as dear friends. He speaks warmly of so many dear friends from around the US and around the world. His stories are pretty amazing.
Other things I learned from Richard today:
- Backslip, a name he invented for their super-fine clay slip, gives a lovely skin to clay pieces in the wood firing. It helps the flying ash to stick to the clay in the hot kiln.
- The damp room pauses and slows drying.
- Sand can be used on the bat to allow clay to move as it shrinks.
- Kiln heat visibly pulls vapor off the workers. He compared it to the "dementor's kiss" in Harry Potter. Around tea today, we decided the kiln is an "ego eater".
- Firefighters get so dehydrated that their blood thickens for hours after being in extreme heat...occasionally causing heart attacks.
- "Tacking" the clay surface with water will help slip adhere to the clay.
- Brother Dietrich Rienhart, former President of St. John's University, "asked for the name of Dietrich in honor of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great German Lutheran theologian who was a participant in the resistance movement against Nazism."
- "Celadon" isn't just a glaze.
- Richard 1) isn't Japanese and 2) shouldn't eat poisonous blowfish.
Kiln wants your oxygen...
...and your ego.
After some reality checks, I altered my approach to clay today. I made some tiny block figures and embarked on slab armatures for larger heads. I still haven't found what I'm looking for.