The concept stage of the creative process is sexy. It is an adrenalin rush that is addictive & illusive in equal parts. The pulling together of ideas & solutions needed to make that flash of an image manifest is inspiring. I am a whirling dervish in my head & am surprised that I don’t walk into a pole more often than I do. Even the laying of hands onto the clay – working out the engineering challenges to cleave with the design aesthetic is exhilarating and absorbing.
But then comes the drudgery which generally starts after the first firing. The ironing of the kinks. Some projects are worse than others but all have to be tested & challenged, especially if it is meant to be functional. A vase that won’t hold water has to either be redefined or dumpstered. With sculptural pieces they can blow up in the bisque kiln or the glaze runs so bad that it is fused to the kiln shelf in the last firing. Or it can come out of the glaze firing just wrong and no amount of “just sit with it for a while” will change the wrongness. The only solution is the dumpster and start again, all the while resolutely refusing to dwell on all the time and money that it represented. To start again with new knowledge and no bitterness, well there in lies the challenge.
Some projects take time to test and I have been known to get bored and the idea gets stalled, sometimes forever, other times months. Take for example my bird feeder. I’ve done 2 tests. One will be relegated to being stuck in the dirt as a slug bar & the other is swinging from a stand ignored by all winged creatures and the wind chimes hang quiet even during gale force winds. So I stand & glare and ponder the reasons. Is the stand in the wrong place? Do I put an ad out letting the birds know where it is? They were all hanging around the week before I put it up, where are they now? Is it the colour? Is it too shiny? Exhausted, I do nothing. To the observer I did nothing to deserve to be exhausted. Little do they know. Sometimes birds need to get used to a new thing, right? Fucking birds, they were the ones that ordered this thing, if they had design requests they should have said something. Am I right?
The other current project that is challenging my patience is a large vessel that my wonderful muse E inspired. She had wanted a large piece to put on the mantle, similar to one I made ages ago. After quite some time (as in years!) I found a suitable mould. I did one & WOW was it amazing! E loved it too.. months later she is still pondering her glaze choice and I have made 4 more. The problem is that 1/2 are coming out of the bisque kiln with their bottoms blown out! Baffled, I am stuck, especially since they are rather large & represent a fair investment of clay & time. I will figure it out & continue but, again, it will take time. *yawn*
So I guess the point ( & I hadn’t realized I was making one till just now ) is that when you pick up a piece of pottery at a studio or sale & look at the price take a moment to think about all that might have gone into creating it. If it is a wheel-thrown bowl, it may have only taken minutes for an experienced potter to make it but it in fact took years of many hours of practice to reach that level of ability. Amortize the price over 5 years and it is looking ridiculously cheap! Just know that each piece a potter makes has a lot of sweat and soul built into it.
Andrew Tarant opened his kiln to this! ARGHHHH Click on the image to read his take on it.
Any disasters you want to share? Leave a comment & we can commiserate together.
Once upon a time I created this monstrosity of a bird feeder, it truly was an engineering obsessive disaster. I wish I could tell you that all my creations are amazing but… well not so much. But I put it out onto the balcony off my bedroom, the one with no door (to the balcony, not the bedroom). Don’t ask me why there’s no door – it was the 60’s & the builder was doubtlessly imbibing some of B.C.’s bud.
I had decided since I had a cat, she could have the big balcony and the birds the small one since it was unlikely they would need a door. They were very kind and didn’t hold the ugliness that held their seeds against me and would gorge with abandon. The problem was I needed a door to get out and clean up their mess as well as refill the feeder. This meant climbing over my worktable and out the window. Needless to say this got old quick, especially in the winter with gale force winds trying to suck me off the balcony.
I just realized this has developed into quite a long story, sorry. But there is a reason, which is that even though there has only been seed out there intermittently over the last 10 years those damn birds have generational memory and sit out there chirping their wee little hearts out causing much guilt for me and distraction for the cats. Normally I could tune them out especially if it was sunny and warm and there would be a kajillion things that needed doing outside and away from clay. Sadly there is to be no sun this summer and really instead of bird feeders I should be building an ark but that’s not going happen, so the birds win. I am now thinking, dreaming, and fussing about the feeder designs – again. This time I am going as simple as humanly possible, really. Ok maybe a little somethin/somethin goin’ on, like wind chimes? Do birds like wind chimes? Colour, what colours do they like… hmmmm google time!
Do you have a fav bird feeder? Share pics and stories…
You can just see the door-less balcony in the background, so you can see how daunting that would be!