Smith is a self-described fire potter. For her the
real excitement doesnt begin until she ignites the four
huge gas burners then steps back to watch her brick kiln roar
back to life.
firing process can take 16 to 18 hours. Temperatures inside
the kiln will exceed 2300 degrees, producing an awesome and
penetrating yellow-white heat. At that temperature the glazes
become molten and start to flow and intermingle across the
surface of the pots.
watched cone never drops." Inside the kiln are three cone
packs that melt at various known temperatures. When a cone melts,
or drops, it reveals the interior temperature of the kiln. But
some things you just can't hurry.
this process Tama is aided by the cosmic powers of the kiln
gods. One of these whimsical clay effigies is created for each
firing and sits at a place of honor directly atop the roaring
approach my work as much from the perspective of a painter as
that of a potter, Tama explains. To me clay is like
canvas. I use my glazes like paint.
is a graduate of the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks,
where in 1988 she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
1989, following some graduate work at Michigan State University,
Tama moved to Detroit, Michigan where she built a studio and
kiln and went into business as Tama Pottery.
years later she and her husband, Jerry along with Jomby,
the Great Dane and three studio cats moved their operation
back to North Dakota where they established Prairie Fire Pottery
in the small town of Beach.