Working in ceramics presents many opportunities for creativity. I do throwing, slab building and sculpting. Many other people and companies use press molds or slip molds to produce hundreds of identical pieces. But what you may not know is how many pieces are lost in the process. I know I didn't know that when I started creating in clay.
I've worked in many art media over the years. I've made a lot of ugly art, too. It's frustrating at times, but it's part of the process of creating. The visions in my head didn't always land on the canvas, copper or paper as I envisioned them. Disappointing, yes. But it was usually easy to fix, too. You just re-prime the canvas or paper, smooth out the copper and start over.
Clay doesn't always work that way. Good can turn ugly really fast.
Throwing on the wheel does give me the opportunity to make changes, fix a wobble or redo a slipped lip. If it's not working, I can scrape it off the wheel, re-wedge and start over later. I can do similar things with slab building, too. As long as the clay is at the early stages, I can take something bad, do a make-over and make it good.
But there are so many parts of the working in clay that can go bad. Adding color, drying too fast, using an underglaze that doesn't fit the clay, all these elements can mean a piece that never makes to the kiln at all. Even a good piece can crack, warp, or fall apart. If it gets through the bone dry phase and goes into the kiln, I keep my fingers crossed and pray to the kiln goddess.
Fire it up and watch it crash, crack, bubble and burn.
This time, when I did my first bisque fire, I thought everything went well. I was wrong. When I had a maintenance check and a kiln coil replacement, I found out my lower coils were broken and not firing at all. I did a re-fire at bisque to be safe and set some underglazes.
Some pieces are good. The vase is perfect, good color, no cracks. Most of the cups came out ok. Two plant pots and two bowls are nice.
Some pieces are bad. The black glaze on the outside of these two bowls is full of bumps. Some of the glaze slid off into a thick, shiny mound and some slid away completely. The inside is good and completely functional but the outside problems make them bad bowls.
Some are just ugly. The glaze on the two red cups bumped, bubbled up, and crawled back. It makes them completely unusable. I thought they were such cute cups when I put them in the kiln but now, they're just ugly.
That's the difference with clay. Once it's fired, there's nothing you can do to turn bad into good. I just have to toss them in the trash, accept ugly happens and go turn on the wheel and start again.