A few weeks ago I was in the pottery studio tinkering away at some figurative sculpture work wondering what I was doing. Scoring the seams then smoothing the evidence of construction. I was seriously bored by all of it and at some point decided to pack up that project and "at least make something functional".
I cut a rough slab of clay, slapped it half assedly(is that a word) on some canvas on the slab roller, sandwiched another piece of canvas on top and ran it all through. I decided that since I had started the process I might as well get in production mode and roll a few more. I was in a creative funk but was hell bent on making the most of my limited clay studio time.
As I began pulling the first slab of clay up and off of the canvas the surface began to crack. There were fold marks and seams in the clay from the material. So many "imperfections".
At first I grabbed my rib to smooth it all out then stopped. This was the stuff I loved. These marks were visual (and once fired tactile) excitement. I wondered what if I could love what's right here in front of me and maybe even amplify it.
And I did.
My muse was back. My excitement returned and I set about cutting and building 14 pieces. Mostly tumblers, a couple of oddball vases. I found the "ugliest" of pieces in the slabs I had rolled and let them be the highlight for each piece and built around them.
After their initial firing, I took materials I had never used before to glaze the surface. I left areas raw, untouched and focused on decorating in contrast to those. Materials I had never used before and applications I had no experience in. I had no idea how they would come out. I embraced the unknown!
I picked up the first half of the pieces from the kiln yesterday. I love them.
The work has left me wondering:
What if we can love what is right in front of us? What if we can find the beauty in the imperfection and even amplify it. What if we can embrace the unknown?
I for one look forward to pondering these questions more later. I'll let my hands explore the edges. My fingertips will feel the texture of marks and glazes on the outside of a new tumbler while I hold it to sip a cider this evening.