It is one of the constants of salt-glazing that the process gives you rich rewards one firing and a pile of disasters the next. The changing condition of the kiln and its furniture is added to the variations inherent in any “live-flame” firing. It can prove almost impossible to duplicate a choice effect. With luck you’ll get another treat instead, but sometimes not.
The last three firings each managed to combine triumph and tragedy. In one, for example, there were some rich bottle vases (a new venture) and large jugs in the upper half of the kiln, but platters and bowls below were ruined by falling bits of decaying kiln shelf. In another the performance of the oil-burners was so far at variance that the rear half of the kiln required re-firing – always risky.
It can be dispiriting. Any pot, not too far gone, has a chance as a “second” to be sold from a market stall. I have some loyal patrons who say that actually prefer the flawed pots. On a good, sunny day it is fun to chat with visitors and to see them part with a pot, that, but for a small scar, would be in a gallery at twice the price. Sadly, this year sunny days have been few and far between, people have stayed indoors, and a couple of local fairs have been cancelled because of the weather. The seconds have mounted up!
On the bright side, a couple of new art galleries have taken my work, spreading me wider geographically – up into Cheshire and down into South Wales.
It would be nice to get more consistently reliable firings!