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What's Up In The Studio
Saying Yes (Part 2 of 2)
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I’ve already covered some aspects of potting that I’m not good at or just don’t want to work on.  Here are the things that I love to do: 

I love sculpting.  Human figures, shoes, suitcases, baseball gloves, and fish have all been subjects for my work.  In these cases, I enjoy building from the real thing.  Having the boot in front of me, so I can see it from all sides — see how it’s put together — makes the work an engrossing experience.  My goal is to reproduce the size and scale of the model.  I like figuring out how wear and tear has made folds and marks in the leather or canvas or even leaves, and how I can make the clay represent the texture of the original. 

For functional pieces, I like working with curves, rather than sharp edges and corners.  Obviously, the wheel is a natural tool for creating curves.  While throwing, I can manipulate the clay to become round in one or more planes.  Hand building is looser, both harder to control and easier to flow with.  Since I start my hand work with rolled out slabs of clay, it can be tempting to design a crisp form with hard angles and corners.  But I am most pleased with softer transitions.  For a long time, I made careful curves on the edges of many pieces like plates.  Recently I have let the knife go a bit crazier.  I have moved away from absolute symmetry towards playing with curved lines ending in sharp pointed corners before sweeping down the side of the piece in another deep curve. 

The raw clay is where the 3-D creation takes place.  Once the piece is formed and fired for the first time, the next challenge is decorating it.  As I explained in my last post, I take a different approach to glazing compared to many potters.  Instead of dipping a pot into glaze and then moving on to the next potI prefer to spend time with each piece, slowly applying colour with underglaze and then brushing over the whole thing with a clear glaze.  The careful application by brush is usually meditative and rewarding for me.  I have had times when I needed to get a firing load ready on a deadline, and the brush-on glaze seemed to slow things down too much.  But since my studio is my life’s calm place, I am happiest when I can take the time to enjoy each step of the making. 

I also use underglaze in my own specific way.  I only rarely work towards solid opaque colours on my pottery.  I play with the original pigment, other similar or contrasting colours, and lots of water.  The effect is like watercolour, I think, with varying levels of transparency and gradually shifting shades of colour.  I especially have fun with the fall tones on maple leaves. 

So you could say that my clay art is organicmaybe more folk art than fine art in terms of shape and texturewith the detail in suggestion rather than precision.   

Yet I am not averse to fine detail after all:   I have recently discovered that I can use transfers of various types to put very precise images on my clay, and I am loving the results.  But that is another topic for another day… 


Posted on Monday, Aug 03, 2020 - 03:12:00 PM EST
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