Pottery Fit For An Emperor?

Once upon a time there was a Chinese potter who had a terrible time firing his kiln. First it would get too smoky, then the fire would seem to die out. On and on the troubles went. And when the firing was over, there were many ruined pieces in his kiln.

But in the middle of the mess, the potter discovered a beautiful red vase in his kiln after firing. This beautiful red had never been seen before from a firing of pots, so the potter sent the vase to his emperor as a gift.

The emperor was so impressed with the red vase, that he had the vase broken into pieces so that the pieces could be set into jewelry pieces. But then the emperor regretted the lose of the vase. So he sent a command back to the potter to make him another red vase.

The potter didn’t know how to make that color red again. But no one tells the emperor “No”. So the potter diligently began testing and firing and testing and firing. Eventually the emperor became impatient. Fearing the extreme punishment of disobeying the emperor’s command, the potter finally gave up in despair and jumped into the kiln.

When the potter’s assistants opened the kiln, every single one of the pots was a bright cheery red. The kiln gods can be capricious that way.

The kiln gods are still playing games today. And they still demand their sacrifices in exchange for the gift they offer.

It all began with our preparations to fire up the old dilapidated salt kiln. As my favorite lidded jar was being hand cared to the kiln-loading shelf, the lid fell off and shattered.

As the kiln was being fired, half a firebrick fell off inside the kiln onto several pots. The firing was nearing it’s completion so there was no stopping.

When the kiln was opened, a good half dozen pieces were destroyed, and others were blemished as pots had smashed into each other from the force of being struck by the firebrick. At least three beautiful pieces by Anthony Seymour was ruined, one of them a very large and lovely piece. (I'm sorry, Tony!)

Blue Salt Fired JarBut one unusual piece stood out from the rest of the salt-fired load. The color blue in the midst of the sea of amber celadon stood proudly beckoning one to it.

Like the Chinese potter of old, I do not know how I got this color.

It should have been the same color as the other pieces.

It was colored with the same glazes as the other pieces.

I’ll probably never get this color again from a salt firing.

But I can assure you of one thing.
I refuse to jump into the kiln.