Hot Fish May 3, 2012Posted by Toy Lady in Family, Not about Food, random stuff.
I almost forgot!
Remember a couple of weeks ago, when I went on the field trip with my mother?
We had visited several shops and neat places, and, in each one, everyone was so very gracious – exactly what you’d expect in a small town, I guess. I picked up a little something at each stop, and, as would be expected, I came away with a bunch of neat stuff.
Then we got to the last stop – Bennett Clay Fish.
I’m going to be honest. I would have been just as happy to skip this one.
I mean, it was a long day. And I was tired and hungry. I had a fairly long drive to get home.
And I was quickly running out of cash.
And, um, ceramic fish.
But Mother and I were having such a nice time, and we kind of got lost trying to find the place, so at that point, it would be silly to give up, so we forged on.
(Heh, get it? – forged on!)
And BOY am I glad we did!
What I did not do, unfortunately, is get photos of the barn full of fish. But I’ll tell you – they were amazing. There were giant fish hanging on wall, and little fish on tables, and mermaids and squids and even, I think, jellyfish. Some were so realistic as to be almost creepy, and some were just plain silly (like the cat fish – a fish with a cat’s face!).
See, sometimes, I kind of feel like a weirdo of something if I just whip out my camera everywhere I go – kind of like, I don’t know, just weird. Like some kind of wannabe cub reporter or something. That’s it – I feel like Jimmy Olsen.
“So, tell me, Mr. Pottery Guy, would you like to say anything to the public?”
We went ahead and checked out the fish (and the serious price tags – dude, this stuff is ART!), and I decided right then and there to come back one day with enough cash to get a DOG fish to hang on my front porch.
As were were regretfully getting ready to leave, Alan, the “head fish maker” asked if we’d like to see a raku firing.
(Aside: When he was in high school, the Boy was very much into pottery and ceramics, so I did know – sort of – what he was talking about)
So we said “sure.”
And that was when I remembered my camera.
See, this has got to be one of the coolest things I’ve ever watched.
You know how a ceramic piece is glazed – basically painted with this mud-colored paint that, basically, you have to trust that it will become the color the label says it will, right? And then you stick it into a rippin’ hot oven (hotter than for pizza, even!) and bake (fire) it in a kiln.
Well, here comes the cool part.
This guy pulled, literally, a red hot ceramic fish out of the kiln, and he set it in a pile of, basically, wood chips and dirt. Actually, it kind of looked like he was laying it in a pile of mulch.
Do you know what happens when you take a fish that’s, oh, about a million degrees, and roll it around in a pile of mulch?
All those wood chips burst into flames, that’s what happens.
And then he slapped a lid on it.
Much better. The flames died down (a bit), and the fish just lay there and smoldered.
Alan said his down-wind neighbor always knew when he was doing a firing. I can just imagine.
Give it a couple of minutes, and he un-lidded the piece, and then (are you ready for this?) he grabbed his really long tongs, picked it up, and dropped it into a tub of water.
Still on fire.
HOW can that be? I mean, how can you take a piece of ceramic, get it so hot that it has literally burst into flames, and then dunk it in water?
Imagine, for one minute, doing that with Pyrex. Trust me, it doesn’t work so well.
And I know this stuff was still mighty hot, because when he pulled it out of the tub, the water that filled the cavity was still boiling. Now THAT is hot!
Discretion being the better part of valor, or something, the sleeping fish were left to lie, at least until he’d cooled down a bit.
At which point, Mrs. Fish Wrangler, Rosemary, picked it up, grabbed a sponge, and went to work cleaning the fish up.
And what went into the oven as a nondescript piece of glazed clay, then came out as a glowing red something-or-other, only to become a flaming fish, was suddenly the coolest silver-spotted, lipstick-wearing, um, well, ceramic fish.
And I have got to get me one of those!