Thursday, July 21, 2016

As The Wheel Turns: Summertime.

I've never thought of art as being seasonal.  And I've been known to push the limits of creating regardless of weather or holidays. But as I've found out before, many times, pushing doesn't always lead to success in art or life.  Especially when it comes to working with clay.

Summertime, when the living is easy.  Except for clay.  

Because it's made of earth and water, clay is especially affected by weather.  Days that are too dry or hot make working with clay a challenge at best.  At the worst, things literally fall apart.  Add porcelain's persnickety personality to this equation and kick it up quite a few notches and you can see why a beautiful, dry, sunny day can turn into an ugly studio day.  If I had a temperature controlled, humidified environment in my studio, I could play with clay all the time.  Since I don't, I'm at the whim of Mother Nature.

Nobody messes with Mother Nature.

Oh, I've tried and tried and tried.  I've spritzed and wrapped and closed blinds and doors.  Sometimes, I luck out and my pieces don't break, initially.  I get optimistic only to have these same pieces develop cracks later on in the process.  At first, I thought it was me, my inexperience or a bad batch of clay which can be very good reasons for bad results.  And that kind of thing can still happen even in the best of clay conditions.  But now, I do know and have finally grudgingly acknowledged Mother Nature wins.

Giving in isn't giving up.

I have to trust.  It's a very hard thing for me to do being the year-round worrier that I am but trusting the cycle is the only way.  Sunny, dry days do not make for good clay pieces.  I can, however, paint existing pieces.  I can bisque pieces and glaze and glaze fire.  And luckily, I do have a shelf or two of pieces almost ready for all three stages.  But there's still a lot of waiting to be done and I'm not good at waiting.

Life lessons from porcelain.

I chose to work in porcelain.  I love its luscious, velvety feel and beautiful snowy finish but it is not a clay that likes to be pushed.  Working with porcelain is teaching me not just about its own nature but mine as well.  Pushing does not produce success.  Grace, patience and trust does.  Going with the flow has never been my strong point, but porcelain is showing me the way.     

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