Last week was a hot one! While in WV for my apprenticeship with Joy it reached 99 degrees outside...this called for many breaks in between work and of course a swim in the river. I had been doing a lot of thinking lately as I am beginning to sell my work and have been focusing on mugs. The typical response i get...."it's not big enough." Ok, so I love a little cup...I enjoy the intimacy of making them and the ability for it to slow down my time while I sip my morning coffee. In this case....less is more! More time to enjoy, more time to taste, and more time to think, and slow life down for just a little bit.
The river reminded me of this. As I clung to a rock I allowed the smooth rapids to stretch every muscle in my body. The refreshing stream of water cooled my body and massaged my back. The sky was perfectly clear, the rush of water woke my senses, and the chorus of birds in the trees took me to another place. Of course Buddy the dog frolicked happily through the water after that wispy little stick Joy tossed. It only confirmed my thoughts of the little things being just right. That trip cost no money, no fancy drinks, no expensive massages, and no struggle of withdraw once returning to reality....it would be there the next time!
I took a moment to write some thoughts...maybe some words in defense of the little cups I love so much.
A Little Cup:
~ A little cup slows down life. Don't drink that little cup of your morning coffee in one gulp! Relax, enjoy it, taste it, remember it. Its precious....the coffee and the time.
~ A little cup says "look at me." Focus on the small, beautiful, precious things...its all in the details.
~ A little cup reminds us that life is not about more....it's about just enough.
~ A little cup makes us feel a warm, intimate moment. A powerful feeling from such a small thing.
~ A little cup keeps us in check...the little moments, the small things....those are what life is made of.
Think back to your greatest, fondest, and most precious memories....
My bet is that they were little, sweet, and special moments....a small letter of acceptance to college, an off the map camping trip with family, holding the little hand of your first baby grandchild, a few simple words from someone special, or even the simple act of sitting on the porch drinking your morning coffee with someone you care about.
In a society of busy and better, it doesn't hurt to slow things down and to appreciate what is already there. When it comes to time and heart, it's the little details in life that make everything else seem, well...small.
"You can refine and finish the soul right out of the clay."
For several months now I have been working on mugs and handles...As in my previous blog I have felt stuck in my work and losing the ability to see things clearly or with new eyes. I now dedicate time to look at things differently and with the vision of an explorer. This has helped me to maintain a healthy and happy balance between the hard work and dedication to perfect a form or function, as well as quench my thirst for new things and refreshing challenges...a desire for adventure!
These were the cups inspired by the wall in my earlier blog...the surface and act of carving were exciting and challenging in their own way. I then attempted carving the feet of the pots so not to lose the angular and loose surface of the walls in these cups. Something new to technique, new to my sense of touch, and new to my eyes and emotions. These cups in all their imperfection, roughness, boldness, and harshness reminded me of something Jack had said during his workshop...my smile grew as I saw the clay in its original life; imperfections and rough edges sometimes contain its very soul. Maybe this concept doesn't only relate to clay...maybe to ourselves as well?
"Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement."
"The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."
~ Henry Miller
This field is basically in my back yard...belonging to the farm by my house. When I passed by I was taken by the amount of information in this one small space. Color, line, and texture pulled in my attention and within seconds I saw these patterns and surfaces on clay....
As I watch more people around me heading on their summer vacation or fulfilling their yearly back packing trip, I have been feeling that urge to run off on an adventure...that overwhelming itch to travel. It's been almost three years since I have done so, and with the harsh realization that at this point I cannot afford the money nor the time to escape and discover new cultures and places I have given myself the challenge of seeing the world around me with fresh eyes. I have also felt stagnate in my work, many times frustrated as I struggle to overcome artistic obstacles....So the two feelings have found themselves to be quite complimentary as I pair them and see my world and work in a new way.
The image above is the wall of a building belonging to the farm next door to me. I've made a point to look around and see things differently and in a way that I can connect them to my work. Surface and line have attracted my eyes many places that I go, and I have discovered new inspiration right in my own back yard. This wall reminded me of some ideas I have been working in my mind lately...throwing a form with thick walls and carving away. Maybe even applying a thick slip on the surface with a flexible rib. I worked in the studio that evening and created a few pieces similar to the one in the image below. I enjoyed the process...playful, yet with intention, as I carved and cut and smeared the clay. When they dry a bit more I am curious to carve the feet to resemble the surface of the walls. I am also interested in attempting some plates with this surface. I do not necessarily know where the pieces will be in the end, but I can envision the soft glow of a wood fired surface and the ash adding depth. Or maybe cone six...a compilation of matte colors that alternate within the patches of surface.
As we loaded the wood kiln a few weeks ago my eye focused in on a pile of plates that Catherine had created layered in between the cardboard squares for safe storage and travel. The alternation of the lines and smooth surface of the clay was intriguing. Within just a few minutes as we took a break, I found myself drawing in the dirt. A square form with a section of vertical and horizontal lines. I have considered carving lines and patterns into my work (of course just sections), maybe experimenting with oxides and slips. A play with surface and direction...how will it compliment my forms?
The piece below was a demonstration during my hand building class that I was teaching...it doesn't completely execute my ideas and visions for the work related to my ideas, but I can see a definite relation to those thoughts and those images that caught my eye during the loading. The interuption of direction in the folded corners, the crease in the clay off center, the smooth triangle of clay that folds over the edge, and the oxide that sits in the surface. I have faith that I can take these ideas and inspirations further...