Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sgraffito living

It seemed like nothing much was happening around here.  Except things were happening.  Just not apparent until almost too late!  Whew.  (Burning brakes, burning electrical outlet, burning mad at a building inspector.) Now life is back to the normal... not much happening here.


Now I'm scratching away as fast as I can! Doing some free-hand sketching (doodling) on some porcelain jars.  It has been hot here. It kept me busy spritzing all the fresh thrown porcelain pots and lids. Covering them up and turning them around as if incubating eggs. I prefer to sgraffito on a leather-hard surface. It takes a little time.  Some of the jars are nearly bone dry now. I wanted to do a little carving along with the sgraffito, but I will just settle with scratching. The more I doodle the more I want to do more elaborate designs.  I am thinking I need to throw a big jar!  Maybe that's next?  For now, I need to concentrate on getting these gem jars done.  Quickly.


I'm also making oval boxes.  The lid knobs are bugs.  There is a request for these for an invitational. I need to do extras just to make sure I have nice ones for the show.  While messing around making these boxes I suddenly wanted to do a figure. Just when I think the well is dry, it rains.  Go figure!  I sketched out what I wanted to do and will work on it later.  It is funny how nothing happens and then it does.........


Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today.
~Mark Twain

Monday, June 4, 2012

Failing and Unfailing Clay

Lately I have worked on some glaze tests and thought about failed pots.  I have a lot of failed pots.  I keep making them.  Every summer I keep making them.   Without fail.  Long ago I quit asking myself where I was heading in working with clay.  That question kept getting in the way.  I decided to just work through that feeling of frustration and disappointment.  To enjoy the process entirely.  Which includes, for me, lots of failed pots.

yarn bowl I kept because its imperfections were perfect to me

I think sometimes I forget about my kiln's feelings.  It is an electric kiln.  Not a soda kiln.  Not a wood kiln.  Not a raku kiln.  No reduction.  No ash.  Only oxygen gets it going and P.G. & E (Pacific Gas and Electric.)  So asking this kiln to kiss my pots with atmospheric magic isn't in its power.  Nor PG&E's.

pinched bowl cone 6-pinched pear cone 06

So I made a pact with my kiln.  I will respect what it can do for me by seeking out forms and glazes that best benefit from lots of oxygen and electricity. In return, it will do as it is programmed or as it pleases.  Be what it is.  And I will fill it with work with all this in mind. Plus an understanding that we both will do our best.

Finally, I will with each failed pot remember the next possibilities.  Even if it is ugly.  By seeing success in the light of its making.  
Go into yourself and test the deeps in which your life takes rise; at its source you will find the answer to the question whether you must create. Accept it, just as it sounds, without inquiring into it. Perhaps it will turn out that you are called to be an artist. Then take that destiny upon yourself and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without ever asking what reward might come from outside.

Rainer Maria Rilke
from Letters to a Young Poet 

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