Friday, September 30, 2016

Curiosity and Control.

This was 'opposite' week for me in the studio.  I spent my time immersed in the glazing process which calls for intense organization and control. Usually, my work is more about curiosity. I used to see curiosity and control as total opposites.  As an artist, I needed to be creative and control got in the way.

What if?

Discovery. Creativity. Innovation.  All of these processes need curiosity.  In order to create something new, you need to be open and wondering.  Discovery and innovation thrive on questions and problems.  What if?  Why not?  Where does that go?  How high?  What color can I make now?  How can I build this?  This is me in my studio on making, building and throwing days.

I love studio days spent trying new ideas.  Throwing a new form.  Rolling a slab and letting it tell me what it wants to be today.  Will it be a vase, jar, plate, platter or mask?  Testing new textures with things I find in the woods or around the house.  Mixing a new color combination or using the underglazes like watercolors and inks.  I can form, paint sculpt or carve, it's my choice and everyday, I'm led by my curiosity.

I love curiosity.  I hate control.

Or do I?  I think I hate control because it's run my life for so long.  Stop.  Go. Stand, kneel, sit, repeat.  But cleaning out my closets has opened up another way to see control.  I've lived quite a nice life so far.  I've worked in interesting places, doing interesting and creative work.  I've raised two healthy, smart and creative humans.  I am still doing work that I love to do because I'm choosing to do it. And I like being in control of my time and my work.

In the studio, glazing requires control.  I start preparing each and every piece by sanding any rough edges, wiping off the dust and waxing where I don't want the glaze. The actual glazing begins much like a day in chemistry class.  Exact measured amounts of water.  Correct combination of chemicals.  Proper dispersement to create a glaze with the correct viscosity.  If the glaze is too thick, my colors will be clouded.  Pits and bubbles can form.  If it's too thin and the piece will not be coated evenly and it won't be food safe. My control at this stage can make or break a piece. Literally.

The curiosity-control dance.

I love questions. I love wondering, what if? It gets me all fired up to head into the studio and dig out my clay, mix up my paints and make something new.  Curiosity leads the way as I throw and sculpt.  It's not just the clay that grounds me, it's the fresh air of wonder and possibilities, that essence of 'curious' floating in the atmosphere. 

After the creativity and curiosity, control steps in to keep track of the details like show contracts, labels, inventory sheets, and supplies. It helps me fill out my firing book where log in what worked and what didn't. This week, as I was glazing in the studio, I realized just how important control really is to my work.  With control in my corner, calculating and mixing my glaze the same each time are simple steps to follow.  Glazing requires slow, methodical, controlled flow.  

Curiosity and Control make a good pair.  

You need two people to do the tango.  The push and pull of the partners stepping back and forth and around echo the flow of curiosity and control. I  see curiosity like the music that feeds the creative process and gets my feet moving.  Yet, to complete a creation, I need control to keep my footing. Step by step.  Just like the tango, my creative life needs the push/pull, turns/twirls of curiosity and control to dance together in balance.

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