Good Times at the Wheel

Clay is a beautiful beautiful thing. We collaborate with nature and refine it and shape it and then offer it to the flame. If you are lucky, it will give you something back that will last a lifetime.

I’ve been turning out some decent work after a hard few weeks. Its good to get going and I’m maintaining some momentum. I had a success with my Terra Sigillata experiment and I’m really liking some of these new shapes I’m designing.

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I also made some small hand jewelry plates, which if the clay cooperates with the heat of the kiln it wont bubble or blister. I’m planning to bisque a looooong cone 04 to burn out as much junk as I can and glaze fire to cone 5. I think I’ll do it in two batches as I don’t want to risk them all in the same load.

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Spring again

The Forsythia

Does not notice me

Sketching


 

Recovering from double pneumonia that I caught over the weekend somehow. There has been an epidemic of it around here as of late from what my brother  tells me in the ER. So I’m taking it very easy and doing what my body tells me to do, be slow and comfortable and enjoy the beginnings of spring.

Forsythia is a beautiful blooming bush from the Olive family. It blooms without leaves early in spring with yellow / golden four petal flowers and is a delight for my mind to run around in the branches seeing them arc and dart and entwine. this is the second year that we have been able to see it bloom outside our bedroom window. I decided to do some sketching and relax. All the hard work I’ve put in is still moving along even when I get put down and have to stop. It all keeps going.


 

My son, being the 6 year old boy that he is, decided it would be fun to break one of the huge flower pots we had out back. It was the one that caught my eye when we were out searching and when I realize that this would be our new home. He didn’t realize how sentimental it was to me. All was not lost however since I remembered that it could be turned into a fine grog and mixed in with my new works. Now the pot can live on in new forms and be a part of someone’s life. So now, not only does my time, my effort and my soul go into my work, but the sentiment of my home and current studio as well.

 

 

Decoration and Calligraphy

Ok so this will be a short post but necessary for me to keep the ideas coming and stored away for future reference.

So in the past month I’ve learned more about ceramics and pottery through Ohi Toshio and Jay Benzel than in the past 2 years combined. Youtube and friends on Facebook are nice for ideas and can steer you in a general direction but there is no substitute for hands on watching an 11th generation master at work or working hands on with someone who has thrown over 100,000 pots in the past two decades or so.

I worked with Jay from Benzel Pottery yesterday and made a few Yunomi and some mugs. Very excited that my throwing skills are improving. I have shied away from the wheel so that I didn’t pick up any bad habits and just been doing pinched vessels and slab construction and just playing around with some ideas so that I can stay in it with the clay.

We did some basic decoration with porcelain slip and it got me thinking about Calligraphy and the pens and brushes that they use. Straight up and down with a calligraphy pen and you get a straight narrow line. Then side to side gives you a thick line. Now add in the variables of curls and motion and you get the graceful transformation of thick and thin. This is not the best example in the world but it demonstrates the point.

calligraphica

So I want to go and get some finger paints. ALWAYS back to the basics. Back to childhood where life was simple and direct and the true spirit of the creative desire lives without complication. Closer to the “source”. Which in my mind, means pure potential.

finger painting

So one finger can go in any direction leaving a single line, thicker or thinner. Introduce another finger and you have another dynamic to deal with how far the fingers are apart. Introduce a third and a fourth or a fifth and the variables grow considerably. Now, I’m not looking for “too much”. Never, ever too much. Always “just enough” is where I want to be. As much done as needs doing and no more.

This leads into a conversation with my wife about a collection of pottery being like an album. A cohesive whole. I completely understand that and I want to focus on a few standard shapes and designs of my own so that I can repeatedly throw them and have a cohesive collection. This in addition to experimentation of course.

This is something that you can never complete. You can never truly be done. In a conversation I had with Jay last night. “Why would you want to get into something you’d never finish?” A very hard question indeed and one that warrants its own post I guess. I’ll work on that sometime 😉