It has been my observation that people obsessed with clay and firing kilns also have a deep appreciation for making pizza. For some reason the two obsessions go hand in hand.
I first discovered this when Robin and I were living in Australia and spent time with Ian Jones and his partner Moraig McKenna, out at their property in Gundaroo. Both of them clay artists, with multiple woodkilns at their refurbished church for a studio/home/gallery, were also well known for their pizza making parties. We enjoyed many woodfired pizzas with them during our stint down under.
Another example that comes to mind is our good friends Tom and Kathryn, also both clay artists that run Pleasant Hill Pottery just outside Eugene, Oregon. They have built a woodfired pizza oven that we have heard great things about, but have yet to sample.
And now here at Utah State University, in the middle of the kiln compound just outside the clay studios, is a woodfire pizza oven. There is a pattern. I wondered perhaps if it was a love for making and kneading the dough, similar to the process of wedging the clay, that drew potters to pizza making. Or whether it was the celebratory nature of ceramics, the eating and drinking off of handmade objects that the participatory pizza making and eating had such a profound relationship. But tonight I realized, it's really all about the firings. Potters just love to fire things.
Tonight we headed over to the school around 5p.m. to participate in a wood fired pizza party. The students are firing the reduction cool train kiln, so the pizza oven was fired up earlier in the day to be ready to feed the hungry stokers at suppertime. Making pizza in this oven is a common event, common enough that supplies such as pre-made dough and pizza sauce are kept on hand at the school in case the urge and opportunity is there. Everyone then donates the rest of the toppings.
Isla was most pleased to hang out with the big kids, run around the compound and eat pizza. I don't think it would be hard to convince Robin that we should build a woodfire pizza oven at our place one day.