The act of making can be approached by ‘farming’ or by ‘gathering.’ Farmers have an idea of what they want to create and seek out the materials to make it. Gatherers begin with a certain array of materials, and what they create is based on what is available.
I collect the clays, glazes, and minerals unwanted by other artists. Ceramic materials are essentially a conglomeration of minerals, and therefore can be stored or reprocessed indefinitely— it just takes time and energy to do so. Through years of working for artists, working alongside artists, and working at a ceramic supply store, I have acquired enough second-hand materials to be able to experiment with and refine them. I gather only what is to be discarded, but I farm for beauty, interest, and functionality.
I work in mid-range temperatures because I can achieve durable and non-porous pottery with less energy use than high-fire. I also like that the turnaround time is generally quicker, especially when experimenting. Mainly, I make mid-fire ceramics because the materials that are most available to me to be gathered are mid-fire.
About ‘Thermotrope’: a thermotrope is an organism or object that moves in response to temperature difference, such as a plant that curls its leaves inward from the cold. Ceramics by definition requires the high heat of a kiln, where the clay particles fuse and the glaze reactions create any worthwhile surface. Throughout the entire process of ceramics, the piece is moving toward the firing.