Saturday, September 28, 2013

As the wheel turns: Throwing the day away.

I haven't had my hands in clay for a few weeks. For me, now, clay is as necessary as sleep.

So while everyone needs time away from work, I get itchy to get back. It hasn't always been this way. 

I've done many types of creative work in my life from watercolor painting, pastels, fiber art to copper repousse', sculpting window screening and mixed media work. And I've had vacations and sabbaticals from all of them, some by choice, some by life changes. Some of these breaks helped me realize that it was time to move on.
Fiber is where I started in art. I loved making doll clothes and doing embroidery as a child. When I got older, I became fascinated with quilting. After taking fiber arts and pieced imagery, I created several projects using my own hand painted fabrics and drawing portraits on the sewing machine. The product was satisfying but the process was not. I found that sitting over a sewing machine was too loud and stressful for me.
It was a sculpture class that headed me into another direction. I had to work in clay in the class, but at home I experimented with other media. Combining fabric, window screening and eventually copper sheeting. While I loved the magic of pressing into copper and creating a landscape and figurative image, the palette of patina colors felt too restricting.

Clay is like an old friend that keeps comming back to visit. I did clay in high school, college and even in my later classes. Without a kiln, it couldn't go anywhere. When the universe delivered a kiln and wheel to me a few years ago, clay moved in permanently.

Porcelain is soft, sumptuous and beautiful. Throwing with it is relaxing and challenging. Hand building and sculptural work is an ongoing process of creative discovery. It's white base makes a beautiful canvas. For me, porcelain clay combines the lusciousness of cold press watercolor paper where I can play with colorful washes of oxides or under glazes. I can draw into the surface with a variety of instruments to create different lines and textures. I can paint the surface with opaque glazes creating a shiny surface like an acrylic painting.

Hand building and sculptural work is an ongoing process of creative discovery. I can make masks and figures. I can combine hand built with wheel thrown. I can combine clay with screening, too!!

And, of course, there's the sheer delight of throwing, glazing, firing and, then sipping out of a mug I made myself. So at the end of a throwing day, I can have my clay and eat off it too.

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