Wednesday, May 8, 2013

As the wheel turns: Out with the old, in with the new.

Yesterday, I picked up 200 pounds of new clay.  I also unloaded 100 plus pounds of old, bad clay that caused a problem called ‘bloating’ in my recently fired work.  You can read about the trials of the problem here and here.  It was very disappointing to say the least.

But that was then, past, old.

Then, I saw the shelves of bumpy bowls and heard my inner voice scolding me for my mistake.  My lack of expertise.  My problem to solve.  I dove head first from the pit of disappointment into a mountain of firing and glazing experiments.  I did not find the answer there or then.

A new answer is here.  Now.

It was the clay.  Mixing a simple earth material like clay into the porcelain that I throw on the wheel is a complicated process.  Components are added in specific amounts at specific points in the process.  If too much of one element is added at one point, the clay is out of balance.  No one can see it or feel it until the clay is fired at the final stage.  Then, this material swells, fills with air and forms bubbles inside and outside the bowls or mugs.  It looks and feels like the pieces have a rash and it’s not pretty.  But it’s not my fault or problem or mistake.  It was the clay manufacturer’s mistake and they gave me new clay.

New clay makes my day.

Today, I sat down at my wheel and threw to my heart’s content.  I felt a surge of energy as each lump of clay whirled into a mug or bowl.  My son asked me to make him a ‘really’ big coffee mug.  So I did.  Then I threw my kind of smaller tea cups.  And I threw a nice, wide serving bowl which I can’t wait to sgraffito. 

Yes, I tossed out the old clay and got 8 new bags.  But what I really unloaded was self-blame, guilt and shame.  What I picked up was new knowledge, self-respect and creative energy.  That’s a wonderful new feeling to have as the wheel turns.

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