Stuck in a cycle

I’m stuck in this ridiculously long making cycle. I have not really finished making any glazes so I keep on making and making. I probably have 75-80 pots ready to glaze and then to ultimately fire. I guess its not bad for my first real cycle. Every pot I throw gives me more experience, which is good. Once I have some glazes made up and tested I will be able to have a more reasonable cycle, probably 50 pieces made, bisque, ponder about how to glaze, eventually glaze, glaze fire and then done. Repeat.

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Each cycle should focus on getting better at every aspect and out of that a rhythm should occur. Once the rhythm is in place you can play within that rhythm and experiment. I think that every cycle should have a few experimental pieces and every glaze fire load should have some glaze experiments in it as well. You just never know what you are going to get which is aggravating sometimes when you have expectations but also exhilarating at the same time.  I had no idea that iron oxide sprinkled on the glaze would have these shadowy dark brown halos, or that rutile would come out with this wonderful metallic golden orange, or that the 2 white glazes I was testing would come out so warm.

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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 😉