He ipu ho ihi Pele (Vessels honoring Pele)
Tim Freeman’s pit-fired vessels are inspired by the experience of living in such close proximity to the summit of Kilauea. His fascination with the volcano stems from a unique experience in the summer of 1991, when as a graduate student in Honolulu he witnessed a total eclipse of the sun from the southwest rift zone of Halemaumau. It was such a moving experience that when he moved to the Big Island ten years later, he was irresistibly drawn to living near the summit.
These pieces are thrown on a potter’s wheel, “upside down”. After the piece has dried to “leather hard”, it is then inverted, opened by cutting away what was formerly the base, then carefully worked. The throwing rings on the inside are carved away, enhancing the sense of looking down into a crater. After a low fire bisque in a kiln, these vessels are pit-fired in his backyard. The pieces are placed in a bed of sawdust, in a pit dug about 3 feet deep. Wood is carefully placed on top of the pieces then set afire. The next day, after the pieces have sufficiently cooled, they are removed from the ash pit. The surface of the piece turns black where it is buried in sawdust and is colored where it is ex-posed to the flames. The glazed appearance is achieved by hours of carefully burnishing the unfired pieces with a smooth stone.
Tim Freeman has a Ph. D. in philosophy from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and since the fall of 2001 has taught courses in Western and Asian philosophy at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. He began working in clay in his youth in Memphis, Tennessee. His work in ceramics developed through his years as a student at the University of Memphis.