Revelry and magic; fire and ash

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When Midsummer arrives, in flowers and greenery, Tatiana the Faerie Queen opens the Realm, for mortals to mingle with fae folk. (Yes, there are trolls, goblins, and mer folk as well.) This revelry takes place in New York state, in dappled sunlight and beside a flowing stream. Sounds idyllic? It is a magical place. This year was the 10th year, and although it was unseasonably hot – we had a lovely time!

For the first time – a few of us that are ceramic artist/potters/lovers of clay got permission to do a thing. Friday nights events include a large bonfire/drum circle. With fire spinners, and performers, and dance, and music – its a pretty amazing night. We got permission to place a little chamber of fire brick in the base of the fire!

Emma and I made small votive offerings and goddess figures, and we decided to bisque fire ours in advance. Although this means we were not relying not eh bonfire to actually FIRE our pieces, we were taking less risk of breakage. Our white stoneware pieces would still be pit-fired or smoke-fired and change color.

Friday evening we built the kiln chamber and filled it with organic matter all found in the immediate vicinity: twigs, pine cones, pine needles, leaves. They were not very dry. Pieces in teh firing ranged from green terra cotta, green stoneware and bisque stoneware as mentioned above. We also included some medallions made form clay from the property itself. These were pretty rough as the clay was very raw, with inclusions, etc.

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Ye s- we are a motley crew. It IS a faerie festival! We had been vending all day in the heat, although it was to get much hotter…

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Two bricks to cap the kiln and offer some protection from falling logs as the large fire was to burn for hours that night.

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.Our host Billy Bardo opened the night with this:“If you are a dreamer come in
If you are a dreamer a wisher a liar
A hoper a pray-er a magic-bean-buyer
If you’re a pretender com sit by my fire
For we have some flax golden tales to spin
Come in! Come in!”

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Saturday morning was already brutally hot – and here was our first look at our kiln! Still warm to the touch, but not smoldering.

 

Results: the nature raw clay did not fire, still crumbly… All the other clay bodies fired well. We had some areas in the bottom of our kiln that were not heavily reduced ( in oxygen/ reduction atmosphere) so there were color variation. Basically – when a piece IS in a reduction atmosphere, the fire steals the oxygen, and the piece absorbs carbon in the exchange. This results in the dark tones on the clay itself.

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A beautiful palette of smoke fired colors and a few flashes of green!

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This was am amazing opportunity. I have done many, many pit fired before: on the beach, with students, large, small, exciting, commonplace. But this was was magical. To have these pieces imbued with the spirit of community from Friday nights events, from this place, at this time? Wonderful!

We gave the pieces away. To the Fire crew, the land owners, the Queen, to the people who make this faire happen! And we hope to make this pit fire happen again next year!

If you are still reading, and want a little more – here is the video reveal of the opening. Silly, excited, irreverent, and un edited.

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Euphoria…

Main Entry: eu·pho·ria
Function: noun
Etymology: New Latin, from Greek, from euphoros healthy, from eu- + pherein to bear — more at bear
Date: circa 1751
: a feeling of well-being or elation
A simple word, a complex potpouri of sensation, emotion, experience, feeling… A patchwork of sights, and sounds; drumbeats and squeaks; costumes, artwork, faces… friends. RenCon.
It was its first year. Would it satisfy? Would it be successful? Would it draw the crowds of its sister show FaerieCon? Yes, and yes, and no…
The crowds were less crowded, true. There were fewer vendors, fewer lectures, true. The business end of the weekend came away even. But for me personally – Euphoria.
I started the magic with Fhairy strands. Gossamer metallic threads entwined with my hair, bestowed by Dancing Hands, my Faerie Goddess-Mother. Fhairy strands
The weekend was a whirlwind of music – Gypsy Nomads, Estampie and Qntal from Germany; artwork – wonderful neighbors in Kathyrn Noska and Kimberly of Goblin Bazaar; Mark Lewis and his amazing tales, (and jokes!); and being able to meet and chat with people who I admire and respect – Caitlin Matthews and Brian Froud!
Sarah Mark me Caitlin and me
But the true euphoria comes from the feeling of community, of having found my tribe – where creativity is admired, recognized, revered. Where people express themselves in costume and revelry; and unite in a shared experience. It is hard to put into words, but it is a magical feeling that resonated long after the artwork and instruments are packed away.
The euphorical feeling, the shared wonder and excitement is a creative tonic. The new ideas that are swirling in my mind, ready to be put on paper, and into clay… will carry me forward, the last traces of the magic of the weekend…
Green Man