Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The loading and firing weren't exactly smooth, but in the end, hopefully will be worth the series of challenges brought on by deadlines, weather, and sheer physical endurance. Unfortunately, one doesn't have time to jot down the activities as they are happening nor were there reporters embedded with yours truly. But I am putting together some posts that will try to recreate the last weeks events for you. The kiln cools as I write this and I'm off to a show in Hickory over the weekend. There's much to be done to prepare the booth, the pots, and the potter!

In the meantime, I've recently been asked by several people to answer surveys/interviews of one sort or another and have been working on them. Although I haven't worked through all of the questions, here is a brief outline.

ON MY PROCESS:

I respond to materials and to the results of the kiln in a cyclical way versus a linear way. Along this spiral I am constantly updating my "versions" whether it be a form or a pattern, or a glaze effect. I guess it's a bit like the chicken and the egg (or which came first) question.

I'm a bit of a reenactor as I approach forms and patterns, looking back at historical precedents. But by some kind of filtration and amalgamation, my unique work emerges. I'm not sure if this is such a unique approach, but it's what I do.

GENERATING IDEAS:

I look at the results of a load of pots after a firing and make notes of the results. I have a massive library of pottery books and look at lots of pictures. I read blogs and see what other potters are doing. I use pots that are different from my own.
I read Studio Potter magazine, as well as Ceramics Monthly. I go to conferences. I talk to other artists. I write a blog that helps me to clarify the ongoing conversation in my head.

BLOCKAGE:

It happens more than I would like to admit. One thing I do when I'm not inspired is to just clean up the shop, put things away. Another thing is to try to make something from the cupboard that I have been using or find interesting in some way. Recently I did a series of "covers" that became a really interesting exploration of form, style/voice, and process.

BEGINNING

I usually start by session in the shop by making small plates. I fill up my tables and any horizontal surface I can. These plates are relatively easy to make. This act is more of a "jumping into the water versus dipping my toes" way of doing things. But it usually follows a day or two of piddling around the shop, mixing clay, cleaning up, etc. But in this process of preparing the clay, weighing it, throwing it, turning feet, I get myself rolling and other ideas follow.

AVERAGE DAY

I wish I had an average day! I guess my ideal day is starting with a cup of black coffee and a survey of my favorite blogs. Sometimes it involves writing a post, myself. But I usually do that late at night after a day's work. Then I head up my hill to the shop and check-in with the previous days work. Sometimes this means immediate action, sometimes it's means covering stuff in plastic and waiting until later to work on. I have a whiteboard that I make notes on and go over. I check off or add things as I think of them. I usually start working by 9 or 9:30 and break for lunch at 1. I work in the afternoon till about supper time at 5:30. Sometimes I will work a little while after supper. As I approach my firing deadline I work late into the night as I always seem to be behind and need to cram to get everything done. Sometimes this is a result of having to do work in the daylight such as cutting kiln wood, or working on the kiln, etc. and I do my pottery (indoor) work in the evening.

BLOGGING:

After a typical day and evening of work, I check back in with the blogs and download images I have taken with my camera during the day. I make notes of possible topics, but usually I try to put down in pictures first and then reflect on themes that reveal themselves in the pictures. I often see things in the pictures that I missed as I was working. This happens a lot and I'm grateful to be able to review the work in this way. My blog is a great record of what I do as well as a database that I can search. Just like a sketchbook or journal, it holds ideas and images that jar the memory and help me keep threads/ideas alive.