Sunday, August 8, 2010

New Work, Old Inspiration

I'm having a great summer! I'm grateful that so many people bought my pots at Alma's Festival in the Clouds, and now I have room for more work in the studio. I've been attending to several different projects, as usual, but am making good progress.

One project was for my brother-in-law, for his birthday last week. Almost without exception, I have to form a clear vision of what to make someone when they request a gift. Luckily, Jesse told me exactly what he wanted: a flower pot for a plant that outgrew its old, plastic pot. He knew what size pot he wanted, and he already had a flower pot that would go beside mine.

The last time I made a normal flower pot shape was in high school ceramics, with my wonderful teacher Ms. Benham. The class lasted only one year, but she has stayed in my thoughts ever since. She encouraged me to express myself creatively and inspired me to adopt the attitude that anything is possible, it just takes imagination. I had a blast experimenting with different forms and styles of construction, and then meticulously decorating my pieces with the school's underglazes. Since Jesse's flower pot reminded me of that ceramics class so many years ago, I decided to mostly use underglazes for the decoration. I'm quite pleased with how nicely the pots go together, and I'm proud of myself for completing it on time! I'm usually behind schedule when it comes to gifts...

I'm also working on a dinner set for a show in October with Summit County Clay. I made a few carved condiment servers in July, and last week I started on carved pitchers. They're angled forward and the handle rests on the "butt" that sticks out. I mimicked the posture of the piece and decided it's a bit of a self-portrait of me in a goofy mood. When I demonstrated the posture to my husband, he laughed out loud.

I enjoy carving pieces; there's a similar satisfaction from cutting into the clay as there is in drastic gestures like chopping off 6" of hair or crushing a failed piece, except that carving has a serene quality of movement, like ripples on a lake. I first started to carve pots in the early 2000s after spending time with Yves-Marie, a potter friend in the south of France, about a half-hour from Spain. We'd work in clay all day and drink bottles of Spanish rosé wine in the evening. He throws very large pots and decorates the carved surface with oxides, much different from my style. I was immediately drawn to his technique of carving and have employed it with my own pieces ever since.

My last project is ongoing, creating work for the High Country Music Festival, which is coming up in only a couple of weeks. Thursday and Friday will be the last days for me to make new pieces. I'll bisque them next Sunday evening and glaze fire all day Tuesday so that they'll be ready to pack up for the festival. Priscilla and I will set up our booth on Friday afternoon, Aug 20, and then I'll sit back and enjoy music all weekend! What a plan.