Living

After Hours: Fired up about Fired Works

With renovations to the Round Building at Central City Park finally completed, Fired Works moved back home for its April 10 preview party, a significant improvement over the long, dark building that housed the exhibition last year.

Macon Arts Alliance sponsors the annual nine-day show, which continues to attract the cream of the crop in pottery building. Fired Works is called a Southeastern pottery show for good reason; there are masters of the mud representing every state south of the Mason-Dixon Line, indelible affirmation that the show is one of the most prestigious in the South.

Preparing for the exhibition is a herculean task. So well known is the work of many of the potters that collectors of their wares will travel miles to collect a few more pieces. Therefore, it is requisite that each potter has enough stock on hand to replenish the shelves as their pots, pitchers, cups, chargers and decorative items are snapped up by eager devotees.

Sue and Ron Bloodworth were excited about a unique vase they purchased as a gift for a “Walking Dead” fan who lives in California, but were fascinated by the complexity of Meg Campbell’s totems, any of which would make an eye catching conversation piece.

Ginger Solomon Birdsey, a Macon native and retired chair of the visual arts at Paideia School in Atlanta, comes from a family of accomplished artists. Her beautifully glazed pottery caught the attention of Jane and John Willingham.

Kathy Tremblay, a new student of Kathy Murphy, another Fired Works potter, stepped in as a volunteer to pack up purchases at the check-out table where business was brisk.

LEARNING THE LINGO

Eavesdropping on the potters is akin to listening to a foreign language, for they, like artists in every genre, have a language of their own to describe the many methods for building, throwing, decorating and glazing clay.

It helps to have a translator, so we followed another pottery student at Murphy’s studio, Linda Padgett, as she made the rounds and remarked on various techniques used from wheel to firing.

The next time you see a piece of pottery that has been deeply etched to reveal a contrasting second color, you can impress your friends by describing this surface design as “sgraffito,” an Italian word that aptly describes the delicate etching to expose a contrasting color. Some of the terminology just makes sense if you listen carefully.

STOKING THE CREATIVE FIRE

Roger Jamison built his wood-fired kilns on site at his pottery studio in Juliette, and prefers the unpredictable results of wood firing. His salt glazed vessels take five days to fire in an enormous kiln that has to be continuously stoked and reloaded with wood.

As Jamison says, “there are a lot of surprises when you unload that kiln.” So, he has had to learn to accept the results for what they are, “not what I expected them to be.” The ash-glazed patina is evidence of wood firing, patterned by the intense heat in layers of earthen hues.

Most potters use an electric or gas kiln -- which takes hours, not days, to complete the firing -- with more uniform results. There is a distinct difference in the finishes and colors of wood-fired and kiln-fired stoneware. Jamison has participated in Fired Works, an invitational exhibition, since its inception 10 years ago.

Today, from noon-4 p.m., is your last chance to see this show for a mere $5 admission.

MEMORIES OF OL’ BLUE EYES

Matt Catingub and Steve Moretti took a break from setting up the stage for the Macon Pops concert the next day to enjoy the preview party for Fired Works on April 10.

Catingub has been in Macon for each Pops performance, so he qualifies as an ambassador who can spread the word about all that Macon has to offer when it comes to music and the arts. Catingub, co-founder with Moretti of the Pops, traveled from his home in Hawaii for the last performance of the season, a 100th birthday anniversary tribute to music made famous by Frank Sinatra.

Catingub pointed out, with a twinkle in his brown eyes, that he is not Italian and not blue-eyed, but that did not diminish the voice, the subtle nuances and delivery of Sinatra standards with which he filled the Cox Capitol Theater when Macon Pops’ Jazz Orchestra took the stage April 11 for its annual benefit, which will fund next season.

Cece and Larry Logue, avid jazz enthusiasts who have supported Macon Pops since the inaugural concert in 2013, were part of the crowd who could recite the Sinatra playbook from memory. Bravo, Macon Pops!

Katherine Walden is a freelance writer and interior designer in Macon. Contact her at 478-742-2224 or kwaldenint@aol.com.

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