Oro y Plata- (gold and silver); the state motto of Montana. From the vast plains of buffalo grass to the soaring peaks of the Rocky Mountains, there is no doubt that Montana is rich with natural beauty. Yet it was the riches below the stunning landscape; gold, silver, copper, saphires and more that brought settlers in droves durring the 19th Century. Ghost towns such as Bannack, Garnet, and Virgina City are often the only visible reminders of the frenzy caused when rich veins of silver, copper, and gold were discovered. As a child my dad would walk with his father and collect raw sapphires off the ground north of our ranch. He in turn taught us how to pan for gold in the mountain streams durring our summer camping trips. As with most adventures based on the search for elusive riches, ours most often came up very short of expectations. Yet still, those memories are with me to this day, a half century later.
Those dreams of discovery and the awe inspiring landscape they took place in are my inspirations for the "Oro y Plata" series of pottery. This one of a kind vessel was hand thrown on the wheel. After an initial firing, the piece is glazed with up to four different glazes, then fired using the raku process. Once up to tempurature, the vessel is removed and placed directly in a container of flammable materials. With flames raging, the container is sealed, robbing the fire of needed oxygen. During this period of reduction, the final colors bloom into what you see here. The turquoise glaze is enhanced with copper flashing, and a heavily textured gold and silver glaze poured over the surface. The glazes themselves contain silver (silver nitrate) and copper (copper carbonate), giving the surface those fantastic metalic flashes.
Oro y Plata
The raku process is considered a low fire process, therefore the ware is not food safe or watertight. You should not use live cut flowers or anything requiring water in this vessel. Some people opt for dried or silk flowers, while most just enjoy the pottery for the beautiful artwork that it is!
Some of the glazes used in this process contain real silver and copper. These metalic glazes are further manipulated to produce a variety of textures and sheens. Caution should be taken when handling or cleaning these surfaces. The bubbles are thin layers of hardend glaze, and should be handled cautiously.
Clean with a soft dry cloth or duster