As the saying goes, “don’t give up just before the miracle.” All the clay I touched for the past month wound up in that endless cycle of wedge, throw, reclaim, wedge, throw, reclaim. Sigh. Whether my efforts made the clay just a boring blank cylinder with no spirit, or a structural failure, everything just kept going into the damn bucket. In bygone days, when I was young and had more ego than brains or skill, I thought every single time I touched clay had to be a masterpiece. Runs like this would be crushing and I’d leave the studio and walk away from clay for a good long while. Now I just persevere. I realize that nothing worth creating comes easy. There is no antidote to this situation but hard work. I also realize that my absolute worst day in my studio as a full time artist equals my best day when I was stuck in an office driving a desk for 23 years at a job I had grown to loathe. Audio books and a new puppy helped too.
Enter Mel. Our teenage Treeing Walker Coon Hound who we adopted on February 2, 2016. Mel was rescued from a neglect situation in West Virginia, fostered while he got shots and neutered then sent to a kennel in southern Pennsylvania to adopt out. We managed one week without our dear Petey who died with us here at home then we realized the house was too empty and clean, the studios too quiet and our lives without that happy canine chaos that gives us our energy. He’s a big white warm soft bundle of love requiring us to change his name from Boomer to Mel, short of Marshmallow Pie. He’s very good in the studios, he even has his own cubicle.
After about a month of fruitless labor, things started happening. More shapes were coming off the wheel to be put in the wet box instead of the reclaim bucket. I wasn’t happy with them as is, but no matter. I kept throwing. All of a sudden I could see shapes for my commission project that had me baffled and clueless for months; I could see sculptural infrastructure that could be assembled from forms coming off the wheel. Suddenly these cylindrical forms, so lifeless and lackluster were blank canvasses for me to alter and add texture to make them come alive and sing. Hmmm! All of a sudden I’m dragging out my Haeckel books and hunting for ideas, making slip and filling my decorating bag.
And suddenly, here I am, breaking through to the other side, busting out from craft into art.
Glass was happening in the studio too. My students are wonderful. They make thoughtful, deliberate, creative work. They are putting alot of care and effort into making elaborate creations so output is slow. I took advantage of the empty kiln space and made some work of my own. Aside from incorporating it into sculpture I don’t work with glass as a primary medium, but every now and then it’s fun to make a tray. It’s straight forward “what you see is what you get” manner helps clear and calm my mind in between elaborate clay projects or when working in clay is more of a wrestling match than a productive, fun pursuit.
Now when I sit at the wheel I feel more back in the saddle. Glazing here we come, yee hah!