On Sunday June 6th a group of Dzamling Gar members and their families gathered for a day of exercising presence and awareness in working with clay. The day was facilitated by australian potter Julian King-Salter and Argentinian potter Gisela Martinez. Trestle tables were set up in the outdoor cafeteria area of the Gar, one at child height and one for adults; each of us began by holding a sphere of clay cupped in the hands and then using the two thumbs to form a bowl shape, pinching more finely into the beginning of a pot. From that point, individual creativity blossomed in many directions and forms. Our work completed, food was shared and the swimming pool enjoyed. A day of integrating mainly with the elements of earth and water.
In the drying air of Tenerife, the work was soon dry – and Friday June 19th was set for pit firing the pots – a process often used for her own work back home by Gisela. Some of these pots were quite large, so we used fire bricks to make a simple but solid grate to allow fire under the work. After two hours sun baking, and four hours of slow fires around the pots piled all together, it was time to build to greater temperature over the fnal two hours, in the end throwing bundles of dried weeds directly onto the pots in incandescent bursts. The intense heat made it hard to stoke the fire, yet somehow we maintained our intimate relationship with it. As the fire settled, Gisela fished out some pots, to roll in dry grass or sawdust, or adding strands of hair to melt and fuse decoratively into the open pores of the clay.
The main unpacking of the whole stack followed after next morning’s webcast from Rinpoche – no pots were broken in the fire, and all had a good ring to them, showing that a high temperature was reached (around 1000 degrees Centigrade), and that we timed our stoking well!
For the future, we may progress to electric firing and produce work for sale, to benefit the Gar and the makers – why not?