Burnt Toast!

You put a slice of white bread in the toaster hoping for a lovely golden toast that you plan to slather with butter. A perfect treat on a rainy Saturday evening.

The perfect butter toast

As you are laying the table, pausing to choose the perfect cup for the hot chocolate that accompanies your toast, a very unpleasant smell starts to waft from your kitchen.

Picking out the right cup for my hot chocolate

Alarmed, you race to the toaster and realize that you have accidentally set it at the highest heat setting and the much anticipated golden toast is totally burnt…unsalvageable. You have no choice but to trash the toast and start over; that is, if you haven’t given up on the idea of the treat altogether.

Burnt toast

A similar situation played out in my studio this summer. Every year I make a tree platter. A large platter carved with a live oak tree, inspired by the ancient live oak in our backyard.

The beautiful live oak in our backyard

It involves hours of carving and slow drying so I end up doing just one every year. After the platter was bone dry and ready for bisquing, I loaded the kiln with some other pieces and began the firing. My brain was already planning the layers of glazes that would go on the platter to make the tree come to life. It was the day before my birthday so after turning on the kiln I busied myself with my favorite part of the birthday celebration: cake preparation. It was to be a Chocolate Bomb Cake!

Chocolate Bomb Cake: dark chocolate pound cake, layered with brown butter ice cream, chocolate mousse and chocolate ganache. Topped with salted butter almonds

The next morning I woke up with a delicious sense of happiness fueled by the love and attention lavished by my family. It was only when I was getting ready that my thoughts turned towards my kiln and that’s when I realized the dreadful mistake that I had made. I had accidentally run the glaze firing program instead of the bisque firing program. So essentially my pieces were burnt toast…unsalvageable! Not the best birthday gift that I have given myself for sure.

My very over fired pieces.

So like the burnt toast, my tree platter is headed to the trash pile.

The burnt tree platter. Too vitrified to take any glaze.
Sometimes smashing pots can be a great stress release especially if one is struggling with a difficult algebra problem.

Now my choice is to start over or give up on the piece this year. And what do I intend to do? You will know the answer at the Texas Clay Festival. If you see a tree platter like the one below at the show, you’ll know which route I took.

What it was meant to be…

Needless to say I have learnt a big lesson: Thoroughly check the firing program of your equipment, be it the kiln, the oven or the toaster.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *