Two weeks ago, we were invited to a pot firing party by Christy and Joe Cole of Windy Ridge Pottery. It was a perfect summer evening, warm and slightly humid with a lazy breeze. The mosquitoes were biting but I didn’t mind one bit. I wore my swollen and itchy souvenirs happily, a sweet reminder that summer is really here. (You’d know what I mean if you lived in Wisconsin). Windy Ridge is only a few miles from the town center of Mineral Point. The property is one of the many must see gorgeous places in the Driftless Area so I naturally spent a lot of time “trigger happy” with my camera.
Windy Ridge Kiln House
The kiln and the kiln house were quite impressive. Joe and Christy built the aforementioned as well as a house a several meters away. In addition, this tireless couple grow their own vegetables, keep some chickens, and take care of two adorable poodles, and a cat. Joe also somehow manages to be a competitive cyclist. (They make me seem so lazy!)
Because wood firing is a very labor intensive process, few potters use this method. The firing takes about 40 hours and the temperature must reach 2400 degrees fahrenheit slowly. Joe, Christy, and friends take turns watching and stoking the kiln (about every 3 minutes). That night was Christy’s shift. After a long day at her other job she had to stay up and take care of the fire. Just imagine having to stir risotto for that long! I know I couldn’t do it. I guess I have to scratch out “being a potter” on my list on what to do when I grow up. Done. Well, I may take a few classes. I casually mentioned to the potters that I would like my first project to be a teapot and they all laughed at me. I was advised to start with a simple cup.
There is a vey long cool down stage before the kiln can finally be opened and unloaded. This is the most exciting and nerve-racking part because it’s the culmination of all the hours of planning, creating the wares, as well as the emotional, time, and monetary investment. A bad firing could cost several thousands of dollars. Thankfully it was mostly successful. Here are some pictures of the finished pottery taken by Christy.
The enormous kiln and Charley dog. Where’s Charley?
In true Wisconsin style, we had some brats, burgers, beer, and cheese. We also had some cheesy puffs, hummus and pita, chewy oatmeal coconut cookies, and yummy brownies. I also discovered a new favorite drink. The New Glarus Raspberry Tart that Krista brought. Come to think of it, that may have been the reason why the mosquitoes did not bother me at all.
Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese
Many thanks and best wishes to Joe and Christy 🙂 Everyone, go buy some pots! Here’s the map and address.
Kiln house at twilight, a cup of raspberry tart, some food, and people
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