Lately, something's been shifting in my world of making. I didn't see it or realize it at first because I was coming from a maker's mindset. I thought I was just making slab vases alongside my thrown vases. Then, slowly slab-built jars, oval dishes and platters appeared on my studio shelves. I was still throwing, making my usual mugs and bowls, so I didn't see that in the background of comfortable making, I was experimenting.
Enter creative fear and frustration.
I spied my shifting process and decided to throw myself into it on the wheel as well. If these new shapes and textures worked with slab-building, why not take it to the rest of my work? Sounds easy and obvious, doesn't it?
Well, obvious doesn't follow as easily as I'd like.
I threw some vases and bowls.Then I got out all the things I used to create the slab-built textures to add to the thrown pieces. I was excited and energized and gleeful as I started wrapping things around and stamping things outside and in my thrown vases and bowls. Later, I painted and stained with the same colors as my slab pieces.
The bisque went well but when I did the clear glaze firing, I didn't get what I'd hoped. I'm disappointed. I'm not sure why I don't like the thrown pieces as well as the slab ones. With the thrown pieces, it's harder to get the texture as deeply into the clay. Maybe that's it? So the staining part of the painting process didn't work the same either because after adding the clear glaze, I got blobs and runs because it didn't sink into the delicate texture. Maybe that's it?
Disappointment led me down another road.
I found myself making faces. I used to do masks and sculpture exclusively but I haven't really done much in the last few year as my focus has been on functional ceramics.
One Saturday, I wandered into my studio and next thing I knew, I'd made not just another face, but a small sculptural tree house.
Yesterday, this new little creature appeared.
Amazing. I was not happy with my kiln unloading but even as that frustration hovers, I realize I am moving anyway. Almost behind my own back, my creativity snuck out and started experimenting. Like a child put to bed, my creative self crept under the covers with a flashlight and kept experimenting. Will these pieces ever see the light of day? Will I figure out a way to give my thrown pieces the same texture and look as my slab-built pieces? I don't know.
But maybe, that's not the point. The real discovery is failed creative experiments don't stop creativity.