Posted on

Herdra: Regenerated – The Art of Rowen Foster

Herdra, Herdra, Herdra:
Herdra is many things.
Herdra: a Hermaphrodidic entity, the hard rock maker
Herdra is a time machine
Herdra is a kiln
Let me tell you a little about Herdra: I mentioned Herdra briefly before. Herdra has been a great accomplishment, helper, and inspiration to me. I have written poems and stories about Her and over half of the work in the show was created inside of her! Herdra is the massive atmospheric kiln that I helped my friend and mentor and fellow sculptor, Michael Wickerson create out of an adobe/cement concoction and old bricks that we saved from wasting away in a pile in the sculpture yard. It just so happens that my mom was visiting during the first few days of Her creation and helped to lay the first bricks! I’ve seen a lot of Michael’s incredible work, but I have to say that nothing tops Herdra and what comes out of Her. So we started heating Her with just wood (1 whole 40 y/o tree from Michael’s land that he personally fells every time) and coke (coal), which is how this traditional type of kiln originally functioned, then we added some propane to speed things up. Hedra fires to cone 10 which is 2500 degrees and takes 3 days (sometimes more) to complete a firing!!! I have held vigil and slept on the ground in front of this kiln after tending Her ‘til 3AM! As far as treatment of the pieces we put in Her, there is no glaze, but an atmospheric, natural coloring that happens from blowing salt, baking soda, and wood ash into her peep holes. This is what I mean by atmospheric firing, as soon as the salt/soda blows in when its hot enough at 2500, it instantly vitrifies (turns to glass). We mastered surface treatment within the last few months, being able to create a smooth, glass finish in blues, greens, and natural, earthy, matt browns, yellows, maroons…We also make our own clay from scratch, sometimes we buy nicer colored clay and combine multiple clay bodies in one piece. There is nothing that compares to standing beside Herdra and feeling and hearing the scorching, searing, roaring heat that she emits and contains. It is awesome and incredible and seems to be beyond this world and beyond all time. That is why we also refer to Herdra as a time machine, among many other things: dragon, deity, kiln god, Baba Yaga and Her Hut, an old, drunken, temperamental, chain smoking, obese, Russian, hermaphrodite who throws tantrums and has an unending appetite (this is the personification of Herdra). We have created a community and mythology around this kiln and my greatest wish is to share and spread her name to as many places as possible to give her the fame she deserves. This is what I mean by Herdra: Regenerated, the show is an attempt to regenerate, as best as possible, some of the experience of working with Herdra and with Michael on his wonderful land that has inspired me so much. I want to share it with as many people as I can.

– Rowan Kilian Foster, 2016

See the Work
Herdra Regenerated – The Art of Rowen Foster,
exhibition July 23, 2016

Leave a Reply