(on right of image) Saggar fired clay, 9" X 17" X 7"
Bonnie Lynch hand builds her vessels with thick coils of coarse clay followed by measured steps of shaping and using a 40 year old wooden paddle to achieve thin walls and smoothed surfaces.
Coiling vessels is a slow, meticulous process that involves waiting for the clay to lose moisture before one can continue to build. For this reason Lynch usually works in sets of 3 – 5 large vessels being constructed at the same time, moving from one to the other as the clay sets up and holds its shape.
The pieces are carefully dried over 6 – 8 weeks.
Once the clay is “bone dry” it goes through an initial bisque firing that solidifies the vessel and sets the physical strength of the clay. After this stage the pieces are completely white and ready for the second, smoke firing.
The second “saggar” firing is at a lower temperature than the first. Saggar is pronounced “sag are”. It is a smoke firing that involves loading the vessel in a gas kiln, within a container (the saggar) and filling it with combustible materials. These include sawdust, manure, pine needles and pecan shells.
Saggar firing originated in Japan hundreds of years ago. Firing the combustibles around the vessel inside a container, inside the kiln creates an oxygen reduced environment that yields beautiful blacks, soft greys and iridescent silver marks. These marks are not under the artist’s control, the fire decides what the results are.
Lynch has always preferred a more raw, natural finish to these clay forms as opposed to the smooth glossy finishes achieved with glazes. The quality of the clay surface shows the artist’s hand and the organic nature of the clay itself, earth.