Fiery transformation into art: Tiles created by the public finished during Fire in the Hole eventA few thousand degrees here — minus 400 to 500 more there — wait about an hour and that’s a one-of-a-kind piece of art.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
A few thousand degrees here — minus 400 to 500 more there — wait about an hour and that’s a one-of-a-kind piece of art.
Artists and citizens alike witnessed this transformation process with a few dozen pieces on Saturday in the Arts Park.
It was the Arts Center’s Fire in the Hole event where people could spend Saturday afternoon learning a thing or two about the different ways pottery can take color.
“It wasn’t meant to be perfect and the imperfections and stuff sort of create the beauty of it,” said Mark Lusardi, a raku artist from New Richmond, Wis.
Lusardi heated glazed pottery to 2,000 degrees in an outdoor pottery kiln for about 30 minutes. From there the piece was placed under a bin on a pile of woodchips to let the natural materials influence the coloring.
It’s an ancient process that dates back to 16th century Japanese tea ceremonies.
“The more you experience this, the more it adds to the community,” said Lusardi, who donated a kiln to the Arts Center on Saturday.
Dressed in firefighter garb, he reached into a scorching kiln with a pair of metal tongs and pulled out each piece while discussing the artistic process.
He fired a few tea bowls, but mostly he fired tiles painted by local residents for the eventual installation of a community art piece. No formal plans as to when the piece will be installed have been made.
His finished products had a metallic glaze that evolved over the course of Saturday as woodchips smoldered and the glazes changed with the heat.
Lusardi shared a quote from cello virtuoso Yo-Yo Ma: “It’s when you stop trying to be perfect, that’s when your art excels.”
A similar but totally different method of glaze work could be seen a few feet away.
Tammy Jones was demonstrating her smoke firing process.
Essentially Jones placed a hodgepodge of organic materials and pieces of clay into a garbage can and literally torched the whole deal.
Over several hours the smoldering materials created a spectrum of organic hues on different people’s work.
Included in the garbage can was horse manure, for a black shade, sea salt for a hint of blue, coffee grounds to show some brown and corn husks to let the amber through.
“I have no control over it and I think that’s the most exciting thing about the pieces,” Jones said.
For Arts Center Gallery Manager Sally Jeppson Fire in the Hole was a way to bring more people to the opening of the latest exhibit, the 48th annual Jamestown Fire Arts Association Juried Show.
“It was an opportunity to expand the audience to more than just the juried show,” Jeppson said.
On display are 109 art pieces from regional artists ranging from one of Jones’ pieces of pottery to a local firefighter’s picture of a burning building.
The exhibit will run through Sept. 7. The Arts Center, 115 Second St. SW, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and by appointment Sunday. There is no admission charge.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at email@example.com