Don Reitz

Don Reitz

Artist Statement 2001

 

Some sixteen years ago, I began to use the salt glaze process as an integral part of my work. Salting is a very old technique, derived from the 12th Century as a quick and economical way to put glazed surface on such objects such as sewer and roofing tile, barn floor gutters, and storage containers. These were usually dark brown in color and had a rippled surface which we now call orange-peel. Instead of bisquing the ware first, then dipping it into a bucket of glaze and firing it a second time, one only needs to place the raw pot in the kiln, fire it to a mature temperature, and introduce raw salt into the kiln. A chemical reaction takes place as the salt volatizes into sodium vapors that mix with the silica in the clay, creating a thin coating of soda-silicate glaze on the clay surface.

 

I use the salt process because my work demands it, not because I was taught it or it is a now thing to do. The process itself is a very physical and theatrical one, which is part of me. It was as natural for me to turn to salt for the final ingredient in my work as it was for me to do all that which proceeded it in my life. The work seemed to deserve nothing less.

 

My involvement is with pottery, the container form, replete with historical metaphor, references to other times. I am mindful not to establish any particular time, past, present, or future. The challenging paradox lies in that the work is historical but without history. It alludes to something other than its physical self. It must establish a presence commanding attention, but humble enough not to confuse the issue with self-adoration; it is a celebration of form and a critique of the artist.

 

Making pots isn't about making pots. You can't let pots get in the way of making pots, like you can't let fishing get in the way of going fishing. What making pots is about is your self - it is a way of life. About the way you think, about the way your mind is; it's about what has affected you all your life. That's why I don't care what people make, or the material they make it out of. It is so individual with each person, but I suppose the main thing is to have them be perceptive, to have them think creatively and to have an open mind.

 

©Copyright 2001-02

 

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