Potters, ceramicists, and anybody else who depends on the fickle interaction of chemicals and frickin’ insane temperatures tend to be a
wee bit VERY VERY superstitious. My teacher/boss has half a squintillion stories about everything from kilns refusing to fire with an upside down cross in them to remembering to check a kiln moments before disaster struck because something whispered at him. There are many potter’s gods, but none I can think of specifically for kilns. Which means that I have no ready-made name for the Whoever-it-is that sits with the kilns.
We have a few good luck procedures that we use to persuade the powers that flux to look kindly upon us. For example, all three kilns are named. The gas kilns (that go up to the insane temperatures and thus present the most danger) have little kiln godlet statues that sit on top of them. Cone packs (devices that allow us to visually gauge how much heat has been applied) that came from good loads are left on top of the kiln to encourage similar firings.
However, I feel so much more could be accomplished if one asks the being involved directly. Make no mistake, there is something there. When I fired the oxidation load by myself, a door that leads to a closet would creak open and closed whenever the kiln started to go a little funky. It didn’t do that when I fired reduction (even though that day was much much more windy) because I had someone there to help me. I’m not sure if He/She/It is local or a god of all kilns. I suppose it could be a ghost, though if anybody should get a haunting, it should be the Sculpture class. They have an actual human skeleton (most of one, anyway. His teeth are chipping and he’s missing an arm). I’m leaning a lot closer to a divine or semi-divine being, myself.
I’m seriously considering tucking an incense cone or something in my bag to burn for He/She/It, or something similar that won’t trip the smoke detectors. Caring for the kilns (to the point of being the crazy bitch that yells at you to CLEAN THE DAMN GLAZE OFF THE BOTTOM so it won’t stick to her kiln shelves) seems to be a good start. Hugging them when they aren’t currently running seems to help too (c’mon, you know you’d hug a great big Peter if you had a chance, too). I’m just not certain exactly what to do. This is the first time I’ve gone a courtin’ an unknown entity in a blindfold. I know I’ve mentioned relaxing and doing more off the cuff sort of stuff in my recent Path entry but off the cuff requires a shirt; I am naked in a red-hot kiln at the moment. Not unpleasant, just… tingly.
For the moment I shall continue as I have been- showing proper respect and care for the kilns and what they do. No amount of incense will fire a kiln all by itself so my mystical musings are tempered by reality. If I don’t know how to work the damn things, then the kiln god has no use for me. Its just nice to think that I have some divine backup to let the kiln fire smoother. Just in case.