Today the Reitz Ranch had another opening of the train kiln. Pots glazed in glowing golden shino, the rich greens and blues of Reitz green, and stripes of black and yellow temuku were pulled one after another out of the kiln. It took over ninety minutes to extract all the treasures from the innards of the massive brick kiln. We formed a line to pass each piece, hand to hand, from the kiln to the waiting tables. Proud potters shared their secrets of success: “I used a wash of b-mix slip.” “This was sprayed with trailings” “I poured shino inside, but its raw clay here on the outside.”
I took a couple of friends out with me. I had run into them the day before at the Sedona Library. They asked about my recent activities and I began my praise-song to The Ranch.
“Never heard of it,” they affirmed.
“Word hasn’t gotten out as much here in Sedona, but this it is becoming the best place around for ceramics. In fact, they are opening the wood-burning kiln tomorrow. Come out and see it in action.”
They came. I showed them the studio space, the glaze room, the kilns. “Members here have access 24-7 to this space,” I informed them. We walked past Don Reitz’ huge porch pots, that line the entrance to the building. They were impressed.
Thirty minutes into the kiln opening they came over to where I stood in the middle of the chain of hands pulling pots out of the kiln. “We are so glad to know about this!” they exclaimed. Nodding to the sparse vegetation across the nearby hills, the cliff down the bank to the Verde River, the potters sharing their pride over the pots emerging from the train kiln, they both agreed, “This is a beautiful place!”
I have only been doing ceramic sculpture for fifteen months. For forty years before that I had been affirming, “I will find a place to make ceramic sculpture, a kiln to fire it in.” I had studied faces of passers-by on New York subways, fans sitting in the bleachers at Indiana University basketball games, imagining how I would sculpt hawk-like noses, the map of wrinkles etched into sagging cheeks, moving my fingers across a wad of imaginary clay. For me, Reitz Ranch is the promised land I always knew I’d find.
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"