The Ceramic Ways of David Shaner
By Helen Beall
David Shaner’s pottery work involves may ways in which he uses unique ways to fire his finished works in a kiln. In a small exhibition that he was a part of, he brought several boxes of some of his works, which were kiva forms, tea bowls, and vases. David used wood-firing for these types of works and he felt that it seemed appropriate at the time he was making them. He set them on high shelves, putting them about a foot back from the firebox, making sure that they were angled slightly to gesture subtle hues from the flame instead of them brush the work with natural ash glaze. He fired the pieces with some old slab wood from a sawmill. The wood that he used in his kiln came from a sawmill. David liked the idea of what the ash from the wood-firing did to his pieces that he’s made. One of his friends, Kurt Weiser discovered a type of clay, called Helmer and David found that it added some feldspar and that it had a body that was somewhat similar to Shigaraki clay. From finding this out, David decided to make some pieces out of Helmer clay. When he fired those pieces that were made out of Helmer, they came out to having a flashing, orange color rather than having a brownish, muddy color that came from most other wood-firing kilns. When he didn’t use a wood-firing kiln, he instead used a normal, soft brick kiln and fired some of his artworks at cone nine reduction.
The many forms of clay and other materials that David used in his world are interesting. He has made pieces using forms such as fireclay, ball clay and iron. He constantly changed his ingredients that he would use for his bodies to make his artwork out of and he decided to mix his own bodies. Fundamentally, he used stoneware, porcelain, and wood-firing clay. He also mixed Mason stains into the porcelain in order to get blue or gray clays. Most of the work that...
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