Photo by Simon Alcantara

Photo by Simon Alcantara

Ron Miller

Ron spent most of his life as a restaurateur.  2013 allowed for a re-awakening of the spirit of clay in his studio in Livingston NY.  He now enjoys the creative pursuit of clay and fire. These vessels are wheel thrown or hand built, hand carved, burnished and fired in sawdust. They are for ornamental and decorative use.

Ron has lived in the Hudson Valley of New York, since 1990. He has long been an admirer of one of its best potters, Nancee Meeker, and was fortunate to become her student in 1996 until she retired in 1998. His desire is to continue the exploration of the rich possibilities of  hand carved, burnished and sawdust-fired pottery, for which Meeker had been a prime exponent.

The Process: 

Wheel thrown, Hand carved and Burnished

I use earthenware clay to throw/make the pots. After trimming the piece, when the clay is ‘bone-dry’ I carve the surface with a combination of metal and wood tools. I then apply the ‘terra sigilata’ (sealed earth) to the area of the pot that I will then burnish with a piece of black jade or chamois cloth. This terra sig is made from clays or stains or oxides and is applied in layers to the surface. The burnishing process aligns the clay particles in the slip to yield the finished ‘shine’. 

The pots are then ‘bisque fired’ to a temperature between 1550˚ - 1875˚ to remove the chemical water from the clay. After that, they are placed in an outdoor kiln, filled with hardwood sawdust and/or shavings. The smoke from the fire imparts patterns on the pots as the clay body absorbs differing amounts of carbon. I use only hardwoods (maple, cherry mahogany, etc.) as soft woods (like pine) impart an oily or blotchy stain as they contain creosote.

These pots are decorative in function as they are not ‘vitrified’ to a high enough temperature to ‘hold water’.

Photos above by Simon Alcantara