It was a real surprise opening the kiln this week. Most of my pieces came through the bisque firing just fine. Even my little experiment with a new low-fire, clear glaze looked even better than I expected. But maybe that's the real problem, here, expectations.
I had high hopes and well, maybe, a little too much self confidence. I expected good results.
So seeing anything blown to pieces feels bad, but even worse, I kinda loved this sculpture. First, I haven't done a full figure piece in years. Second, creating it was just spur of the moment, unplanned creative flow. The best kind of creative experience in my opinion are the ones that just 'come together' seemingly on their own.
I didn't set out to create her. I was just letting myself play with clay. Rolling it out. Pressing different tools and textures into it. I made a big ball of clay and started pinching it and pulling it and smooshing it around, when all of a sudden, there was a face. A young woman stared back at me smiling. I picked up the slab of clay on my board, pressed it together in the front, let it drape in back and, there was her gown. I put the smiling woman atop the gown and added a whimsical hat with a button.
Voila. A lady appeared. And I just loved her.
After I slipped and scored and pressed all the pieces into place, I wrapped her up carefully and set her aside to dry. It's been over six months since she appeared. In that time, she's been very, very, very slowly drying in my studio. I checked the piece for cracks. I didn't find any, anywhere. But I still waited. With clay and sculpture, I've learned the importance of patience and waiting for the clay to dry on its own. So, I thought I was safe. I thought she was safe.
I thought it was time.
Now, I ask myself - why? What happened. How did it happen?
I did use porcelain for this figure, a clay I use primarily for functional pieces now. But I've successfully made masks with it. So I thought the worse that would happen were a few cracks which I could repair. But there were no cracks. Was it the clay? Was it too dry? Was there a bubble somewhere inside the head?
The answers to my questions - I do not know.
I've made many, many pieces, sculptural and functional, successfully. I've had my share of cracking and warping and bloating. But I haven't had a blow up in a long time. So I guess it was time. Too bad though, I really, really loved this sweet lady. I'm going to miss her presence in my studio.