Literally…we’re putting fire on sale, because what father doesn’t like fire? (I could probably just say what POTTER doesn’t like fire… in our industry, there is definitely an increased liklihood of having an affinity for the flame.) My dad DEFINITELY did. I can remember him bringing home one of his 100# propane tank strapped to a two wheeler and the half-million BTU Red Dragon Torch and using it to burn off all the weeds in our gravel driveway. He always had a twinkle of glee in his eye whensetting things on fire. Evenings and weekends at home often included both a bonfire and a separate smaller fire to cook burgers or dogs. And Fourth of July? forget about it….he was a kid in a candy store. Needless to say, he also enjoyed firing kilns. The Bracker Raku Kiln that he designed would be broken out to introduce neighbors to the art of ceramics, so that they would understand when they smelled smoke, to check with Bill before calling the fire department. Of course these neighborhood Raku parties also included a great deal of education as it was impossible for him to not teach.
As i was cleaning my mom’s office here at Brackers recently, I found a bunch of old black and white pictures of a workshop(?) my dad had presented, it must have been somewhere between 1975-1979. As I looked at those pictures, I noticed that there were many women in my father’s class or workshop (not sure which it was) and the photos also clearly showed his instruction included having those women doing the work and learning first-hand how to make a fiber raku kiln as well as brick kilns, and then they also fired the kilns. I don’t think it had really occurred to me when i’d seen those pictures before, but now I realize that this was atypical for that time period. I was just barely around then, but stories I have heard indicate that there were few women in ceramics programs, and the ones who did blaze that trail were often made to feel less valued than their male counterparts either because they received less attention from their (usually male) professors, (or the wrong kind of attention from them). I am very proud to say that this was not ever true in my Dad’s classes. In fact, I have had many of his former female students contact me over the years to tell me what a great professor he was for them and that he continues to be among their top mentors in the field. My dad was ahead of his time and a wonderful man. In honor of Father’s Day and *my* father. we’re putting his Raku kiln on sale. For the next four days (from June 18-22), you can save $20 on the Raku Kiln alone or as part of our complete kit. Just use the code FATHERFIRE at checkout.
Fast-forward a few years and the tradition continues. The father of my children, my husband Dave, might as well be a moth for how much he is drawn to the flame. And much like i remember my dad’s enthusiasm for fire/firing, so, too, will our children remember Daves (ok, and mine too, but it’s FATHER’s day. We can talk about my pyromania later). We continue to enjoy raku firing here, with family and extended “clay family” and other friends, even when the weather pushes us inside (we are fortunate that Dad’s kiln design can be fired just inside of a garage, or in this case, our warehouse, with the reduction chambers (and the majority of the smoke) remaining outside.
Also….we still have some awesome women making these raku kilns!
I enjoyed your memories of your Dad and the memories you’re still making.