This is a copy of the article on Wali’s blog – for more interesting articles visit his blog.
Heloisa Alvima is a potter from Brazil who lives in Monferrier, France. I was very happy to be invited to build and fire a set of Fire Trees which would coincide with the festival of San Jean which is also the same day as the Summer Solstice. The setting was the Culture Centre and I was ably assisted by students from the ceramics school, local potters and enthusiasts. We started off with the usual coiling techniques and found the clay as supplied by SolarGil to be good allowing us to dry out the structure quite rapidly without cracking. Those who participated in the project were also invited to create decorations that reflected the local landscape or at least inspiration was from our surroundings. I did so in order to make people more aware of the environment in which we inhabit not only in the physical sense but also in the social context. It is another aspect of the Fire Trees that go beyond technique and process.
It was great to have the support of the Asociation de Clubs de Loisir (Hope that is how it is spelt!), Daniel who is the president, Gerard who put up with me and his wife Jo—many evenings were spent enjoying their hospitality, Loule, Izabu, Tibo, Caren and a host of others. Their help and kindness also the hospitality knew no bounds. If I have forgotton anybody then I allow myself to be shot for such an omission. Unfortunately we discovered that the clay did not quite meet up to the tremendous stresses during the firing and structural damage was quite severe…despite our attempts to repair the damage I am afraid the trees will have to be re-built and fired again. We got to temperature and the clay fired well…in some cases it actually fused. The firing was quite a spectacle. Looking forward to the next firing.