• Sharon Feigal

Eyeballs on FIRE!

Updated: Mar 12, 2021

A few years back my left eye was damaged by the hook of a stretchy motorcycle baggage net. Be careful with those things--you could put your eye out! I had a few months of bandaged eyes and lots of doctor visits, and the end result is that although it healed, my eyes will never really recover. It turns out my left eye was my dominant eye, and the compensation on the part of the right eye has weakened it significantly, along with a few other complications. My left pupil no longer constricts more than a little, so I am super sensitive to light and also wear special contacts sometimes in layers in order to see at all. There are 2 different types of specialized glasses for specific instances as well.

Eyes and vision have become a necessary obsession.

At a salt-glazing retreat a couple of years back I discovered I really really love throwing closed forms - balls especially. I love planning just the right amount of clay at the top to seal it and not leave a weak point. I loved how they held heat so long after coming out of the oven that I could stick one in my pocket in the early morning chill while we finished the kiln unloading and packed everything else safely for travel.

The first one went from being a pocket warmer to a garden decoration, but I wanted to make more balls! So I started making eyeballs.

I didn't have a plan for how to glaze them at first, and was planning on decorating them with colored slip (for the 1st firing) then a simple transparent glaze (for the 2nd firing). After the first (bisque) firing, however, an opportunity came up to join a group doing a raku firing. Raku is wonderful - you fire the items in a small gas kiln outside, then remove them from the kiln while still very hot and treat them in a few possible ways. In this case, we had a metal bucket filled with various organic materials (grasses, straw, newspaper) and we put the hot pieces straight in there!

Everything goes up in flames and you cover it for a bit. When you remove it again, still warm, the glaze cracks and the minerals in the organic materials have created unexpected color patterns. Anything unglazed is black, and you can apply a little beeswax to make those areas subtly satiny.

The whole experience is lovely and outdoors, an additional benefit in these pandemic times.

Thanks for reading!

Although two of the raku-fired eyeballs have sold privately, there are 4 more available soon. And a further 8 more are ready for bisque firing!

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