Cone 10 Tama

Those of us close to Tama are well acquainted with one of her personalities we affectionately call Cone 10 Tama.

I’ll try to explain.

Tama is a fire potter. That’s a potter who considers all the wheel-throwing, hand-building, trimming, and glazing mere prep work for the main event: dialing opening the big two-inch gas valves and striking a lighted match.

If you were there, you’d feel the thud then hear an eruption as the kiln roars back to life. You’d also see the excitement in Tama’s face as she thinks “now I’m cooking.”

We’ll return to this idea of “cooking” in a moment. But first, a little more explanation.

Pottery can be fired to range of tempertures, each designated by a cone number. The higher the cone the hotter the kiln. Tama fires to the very top of the scale, 2400º or Cone 10. How hot is that? Well, 375º is the temperature of a pizza oven. 2400º is the temperature the space shuttle reaches on re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere.

Now, Tama’s facination with heat only becomes a problem around dinner time when the day’s work is done and she decides to warm some rolls for supper.

Scientists studying this phenomonen are still uncertain what exactly goes through Tama’s mind at this point, but they believe the normal neuro-cognitive receptors that allow most people to differentiate between a kiln and a kitchen oven are not present in Tama’s brain.

To her, everything is a kiln.

In no time thick clouds of black smoke billow from the oven door. Smoke alarms blare. Dinner guests frantically search the cupboards for baking soda. And those poor rolls? Well, let’s just say they’ve been… transformed.

Tama’s response to this is to plead the genetics defense. She insists her mother was the same way and says she has pictures to prove it. Well, maybe.

At any rate, our hope is that someday Cone 10 Tama will publish a cookbook sharing many of the delights we’ve been served over the years. Like Blackened Flatbread, Too Toasty Tortillas, Carbonated Granola Crunch, and my personal favorite, Forget-About-It-Meatloaf.

It can be safely said that this cookbook won’t win the endorsement of the American Dental Association. Although, maybe, if accompanied by this simple disclaimer: “Meals contained in this cookbook should only be consumed by persons possessing the jaw strength and bite force of a wild cannine”.


Jerry DeMartin operates Prairie Fire Pottery, a small handmade pottery shop in western North Dakota.

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2 Responses to Cone 10 Tama

  1. I love it! I kind of wish I could say I’m the same way as Tama. Unfortunately, I’m better in the kitchen than with a gas kiln. I love the process of throwing pots, but would almost rather leave them to someone else to “ruin” in the fire. Maybe I’ll just send them to Tama to fire!!! Then they’ll actually come out looking good.

  2. Hey Steve, I love collaborating with other potters! You throw….I’ll glaze and fire! But it must be cone 10 clay! Tama

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