If you would like to buy my work then either contact me directly or better still, contact one of my Galleries who may be able to help you.
This bit is mainly for any other wood firers who are either taking part in my next firing or may be passing through and want to see if any firings are happening. If that’s the case then you are most welcome, just let me know.
Next firing is: early July 2018
142 Rahu Road, Mackaytown, Paeroa.
Ph: 07 8626974
I have a studio gallery which is usually open from Thursdays to Sundays, 10am to 4pm. From April to October please call first to make sure I’m home.
See this website for more information:
I first became interested in clay as a teenager and when I was 16 took lessons at the Auckland Studio Potters, but it wasn’t until I started studying ceramics at UNITEC in 1994 that I realised it was a lifelong occupation. In 1998 I graduated with a bachelor in 3D design, majoring in ceramics and since then I have been working as a studio potter. I was also the Co-Director of the Auckland Studio Potters from 2000 to 2006 and was the Manager of the Waikato Society of Potters from 2008 to 2012.
I love to experiment with new clays and since moving to Rahu Road I have been using clay from my land – a rich, wild Coromandel clay. I respond to the different characteristics of the clays, seeking out qualities that I enjoy when throwing pots on the slow moving treadle wheel.
My firing methods of using a wood kiln and spraying a small quantity of soda ash solution in at high temperatures creates the variegated flashings and speckled glaze patterns – different on each piece. The combination of the clays and the firing process is why I get such rich surfaces on my functional work.
Another strand to my working process is a fascination with the technological side of making permanent objects out of clay; this translates into experimentation with materials and firing methods. I construct kilns out of various unlikely materials and in diverse configurations in an effort to explore how contained fire behaves.
Teaching has been a mainstay of my working life, providing both a steady income and a rewarding, challenging and inspirational livelihood. I have taught many classes from beginner through to tertiary level, from short workshops to year-long courses.
I like to travel and use the freedom of unplanned excursions as liberating and eye-opening experiences; a way to re-examine ideas and situations that leads to new approaches and influences in my work.
What is wood fired soda glaze?
Starting with the kiln, the wood firing is a process of heating up a chamber full of pots using only wood as a fuel. My kiln is of the fast fire variety and normally takes about 13 hours to reach the temperature of 1300 degrees. Every couple of minutes or so the firebox is stoked with wood, a plume of smoke erupts from the chimney, the chamber is filled with flame and the pots get a little hotter. I use a mixture of wood, mostly pine pallets supplemented with local gum or fruit tree prunings or invasive trees like Privet.
When the kiln has reached 1250 degrees I start spraying the mixture of soda ash dissolved in hot water into the kiln through various ports. The liquid explodes into steam and is carried with the flames as they wrap around the pots, depositing the soda on the clay. This powerful flux, soda, then transforms the clay skin into a glaze and captures the unique atmospheric conditions at that point.
The elemental nature and unpredictability of the process are what appeals to me. You have a sense of control, a measure of reliability, but never certainty. The same firing can produce gems as well as disasters. But the process and results also leave room for encouragement and hope.
Since moving to Rahu Road and establishing the pottery here I’ve been adding the ‘R’ chop to the bottom of my pots, underneath my usual chop of the triangle with the initials DS. It looks like the image on the right and is no great mystery as the letter R stands for Rahu Road and the wavy line is because of our stream across the road called Doherty’s Stream which formed this valley. It helps to have 2 marks as occasionally my triangle chop is obliterated by a glaze run.
Rahu Road Gallery
The gallery is a 10 square metre tin box, with a 50 degree pitched roof. It’s been fun translating ideas from sketches through the technical drawings to the building process. I’ve found the greatest pleasure is when the site is cleared and you pace out the site, sit and cogitate on the sun’s angles, think about the wind and rain and finally pin out the corners — locking forever the building idea to the ground.
The actual construction process is a battle of accuracy over tools and materials. Somehow things work out and the skeleton finally pops up, but is it as my minds-eye saw it? The ideas change as the building is constructed, but how malleable is the shed to changes when I’ve already cut the timber and tin?
The last 5% of the build seems to take disproportionately long, one of decisions that I’ve taken longest over is the paint colours. But finally it’s all painted and open for business, so pop in if you’re passing and have a look. For more information about what’s on display please check out my Rahu Road Pottery website by clicking on the link above.