Guest Post by Liz White:
I tend to avoid fires. For those of you who know me, you know that I have the coordination of a wet noodle. And for those of you that I haven’t met, well trust me I am literally a bull in a China shop. So when we returned to Mr An’s house to observe and participate in the lighting of the kiln, I was a bit hesitant to approach the flames. But when we arrived there, after a cheerful reunion, we were shown the different parts of the kiln. It was amazing. Granted, you couldn’t get too close because it was literally on fire, but it was awesome. There is just something so cool about a fire that hot.
I have to be honest and admit that my physical participation in this process was limited to just tossing a log in the kiln, but Pat an Jason were able to take a more active role. Not only did they tend to the main fire in the kiln with Mr An but they also helped assist in the fueling of the individual portals of the kiln. When removing a brick in order to be able to access the different section of the kiln, the bricks were glowing with heat. It was incredible, and at the same time a perfect indication that this klutz should probably stick to her observatory role. One of the cooler parts was when we were actually able to see a fellow Institute member’s elephant tea pot actually in the flame. It was beautiful.
No visit to the An’s house would be complete without one of Mrs An’s delicious 5 star meals, and when she started to bring out the food, I felt my excitement growing. She was preparing barbecue, which has been one of our favorite dishes here in Korea. Mr An used the burning coals from the kiln to light the grill. I believe Pat Penny put it best when he said that eating dinner cooked on the coals that are currently firing the onggi plates that your meal was served on, is pretty much an amazing and indescribable experience. And of course the dinner was exquisite. You just cannot beat a day spent with the Ans.
After dinner the boys and the “kiln crew” which consisted of Mr An and two of his friends, went back to work. They broke wood and shoved it continuously into the fire, until finally it was time to seal the kiln for the night. It was just incredible to be able to see something from start to finish. It gave us a greater appreciation for the pottery and all the work that goes into it. We thought molding the clay into objects was hard, but the kiln is a whole other art form in itself. At least when we were molding the worst that could happen was that it looked awful! Messing up when it comes to the kiln…well that I the reason I thought it best to let the pros handle the flame. But it really was fantastic to able to witness firsthand the firing of our pottery. Signing off with an even greater appreciation for pottery than after my first post, and no charred body parts.