Dews Frog Vessel
Penelope Dew’s sculptures are fired in an Anagama kiln (cave or tunnel kiln.) It is an ancient technique for firing pottery, with less than ten of these kilns in Oregon. These pieces were produced and fired in two Anagama kilns, in Elkton OR and Junction City OR.
The kiln is a long, low and built on the side of a slope. The doorway is about 4 feet high. The pieces are placed inside the kiln on wadding, small daubs of clay that protect the pieces from sticking to the kiln floor during the firing. The kiln is warmed up slowly during the first night and is brought up to temperatures of 2,350 degrees F in over a hundred hours of firing. Fire traveling in an Anagama kiln has often been described as a river with the pieces being stones in the river. As the river travels between the “stones” it continually deposits ash on the clay, which accumulates and ultimately becomes a glaze.
Each firing is as unpredictable as it is exciting. Firing an Anagama is more than merely an aim at creating unique and beautiful pottery. It is in great part a community event. Many hands handle the thousands of pieces of wood that go into the kiln. The successes are due to the energy of the group. Participants cook and eat together as well as work shifts around the clock.
Penelope’s sculptures are built in a modified coil technique allowing clay to be moved quickly. Once the material is in place the main shape is formed, animals and handles are added. Then the subtractive method is used, carving away material to define the details. Sometimes “sketching” loosely on the piece, helps one get a feel for the direction the work is going.
Dews Undersea Vessel
Animals, architecture, ancient artifacts, natural forms and dream images are the themes of the pots. Often forms are combined. The large pots are great stages for the animals to interact on.
Penelope started making pottery as a child and eventually graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1984 with a BFA in Ceramic Sculpture. A fifth generation from the Rogue Valley she returned to live here 11 years ago and has been teaching Ceramics for the past ten years most recently at her studio in Phoenix, Oregon.