WASILLA — Dozens of pyromaniacs gathered at the Wasilla Museum of Transportation and Industry for the annual Art on Fire event and the 12th annual Valley Arts Alliance Art on Fire Iron Pour Art Fest.
Booths, shops, food and music were all present at the event held each year for all ages to see the fiery wonders of blacksmithing, pouring hot iron and pottery.
Sandra Cook owns SL Cook Pottery and Fire Works and gave Raku Pottery demonstrations at the event last weekend. Cook pulled molds from an oven and placed them in small trash cans filled with newspaper. As the hot pottery set the newspaper ablaze, cook put lids on the cans, starving the pottery for oxygen. Raku pottery is a Japanese form of pottery developed in the 1400s by Buddhist monks, and it is the only form of pottery that is ‘participatory.’ Participatory pottery means that Cook is handling hot pots, as opposed to firing the pottery for a period of time and then cooling her art in the same apparatus. The fast fire technique of pottery heats up to 1,900 degrees in about a half-hour before sitting in the newspaper for a few minutes. Cook’s fast fire Raku pottery produces wonderfully iridescent colored pieces of art.
“You get pretty immediate gratification. I do a lot of other kinds of pottery to but this is just a fun thing to do and it’s participatory and everyone can join in,” said Cook.
The Transportation Museum was lined with individuals from all over the country skilled in creating with extreme amounts of heat. Pat Garley hosted workshops at his studio prior to the event, and the As cook pulls her pieces from the newspaper filled trash cans, some of the pieces are still on fire. Cook says that her Raku pottery exhibits such vibrant colors because without time to cool down and without oxygen in the trash can, the fire developed in the can pulls oxygen from the mold itself, helping to form the colorful pieces. While the open air of the booths on the pavement make it easy to peruse the various flaming art options, safety is clearly paramount. Cook’s cans are marked off with cones, and Cook wears protective clothing, gloves, and a hat to keep from catching anything on fire she doesn’t want to. Artists who use flames as a paintbrush come from all over to Art on Fire.
“It’s a gathering of a tribe it really is an art tribe,” Cook said. “I think it’s just really a fun event for all kinds of people and it’s family oriented there’s a lot to learn, that’s if you’re interested. There are a a lot of things that you can learn.”