Black and white photograph of Jeff Ruemeli working a soda kiln.

Tend Your Craft

Black and white photograph of Jeff Ruemeli working a soda kiln.
Tend Your Craft — 35mm | f/1.4 | ISO 160 | EXP 1/30

So this is how pots are made—or fired, anyway. Last night I dropped on by the old yacht club—Long Beach Island Foundation (not a yacht club). Ceramics lead guy and all around bearded fellow, Jeff Ruemeli, was working the soda kiln with an eager assistant whom I do not know well enough to use her name without permission. Over the next few hours I watched the taring of scales; encountered esoteric recipes as ingredients were weighed, measured, and mixed. Saw water boil—with my own eyes! Even listened to some Journey. Then there were (was?) the burritos. Not the edible kind which was a real bummer since I was hungry enough to eat a fist. Apparently after you mix all the powdered chemical ingredients with the boiling water you lump them out onto old newspaper and wrap them like burritos. Cool enough from a learning perspective; hardly satisfactory from a hunger perspective.

Once these machinations were complete I made for my trunk and grabbed my camera—also not edible. Behind LBIF we stood around the soda kiln in almost ritualized fashion. My mind turned to our ancestors from a far distant past. There is something quite literally ancient about pottery. While I don’t know much I do know this—its roots are firmly entrenched in a past long gone, and little has changed throughout the millennia. Was this how it was for Athenian potters? Laboring tirelessly under the yolk of a towering Acropolis and roundly dismissed in their time? Like too many other masters their skill and higher purpose was not recognized until they had long passed on. To the vested Athenian these were mere vessels for keeping grain and wine. Complete myopia beyond functional utility. Historical perspective brings a greater meaning to the here and now where three people who have never been in your kitchen found themselves on Long Beach Island honoring proud traditions born of misunderstood beginnings.

Back in the present and on my way home I stopped for Taco Bell.


One response to “Tend Your Craft”

  1. […] making my way to LBIF and the soda kiln firing this past Friday I stopped off at the aptly named Harvey Cedars Sunset Park fishing for a sunset. […]

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