Art Chowder September | October 2021 Issue No. 35 Issue 35 | Page 48
The Japanese raku potters are considered national treasures in Japan . Tim uses alternative firing techniques — almost everything he does is in and out of the kiln within an hour .
Saggar , one of the methods Tim employs , is a piece of pottery inside another vessel . It can be another piece of pottery or newspaper with clay on it formed around the pot . “ When the clay dries , you have a kind of sarcophagus with the prize on the inside ,” Tim comments . He uses aluminum foil , which crinkles and leaves channels for the fumes to filter through . Tim adds chemicals ― including everyday items like Miracle-Gro or salt ― to produce different colors . He also uses horsehair , copper wire , moss , leaves , and steel wool for a variety of effects . He closes everything up while it ’ s all in the same place , heats it for 20-30 minutes until the foil starts to break down and resembles tissue paper . Finally , he decreases the heat down and lets it cool .
“ Saggar is a lot like coloring an Easter egg with a blindfold on . There is no way to duplicate a pot ,” Tim explains . “ Each one is different . That ’ s part of the fun because it teaches you humility . In your mind ’ s eye , you think you know how it will turn out , but it never does . It teaches you to act without any expectations of the result .”
According to Tim , doing what he loves drives a desire to share it with others . There are times when he is required to treat it like a job — like when he has to produce about 80 pots for an upcoming show — but he still loves it .