I am getting ready for a ceramics show. Actually, I’ve been working towards this show for the last six months. Right after the holidays, I got busy throwing bowls and cups and hand building lily vases and jars. I love that part of the process and it goes pretty smoothly.
Drying doesn’t. The porcelain clay I work with does not like to be rushed. It likes to sit, nicely covered for weeks and weeks and weeks. After some time has passed, I can paint the first layer of color. Then, I wait some more.
Patience doesn’t mean perfect.
I have worked on patience for years and I have gotten much better because, if I push porcelain to the next phase before it’s ready, it cracks. Or worse, it blows up.
So I waited. I made more pieces. I waited some more. Finally, it was time to do the first bisque fire. I put on another layer of color, and did the second bisque fire. Everything came through looking pretty good.
But not perfect. I’d love to say that my handmade work is perfectly done. I’d love to say that my technique is flawless. I’d love to say that I have the perfect clay and glaze combination that works consistently every time. Yeah, right.
Snap. Crackle. Pop.
The last time I did mugs using my favorite black glaze on the handle, it literally came out of the kiln and flaked off. I’ve never had that happen before and I’ve been using that same glaze for 5 years.
This time, I eliminated the black handle and put the red or turquoise color on the inside, leaf and side decoration only. I left the handles in the clay body and clear glazed them instead. Well, this handle not only snapped on this mug, it decided to sculpt itself into an entirely different shape. Unusable.
I had one wine cup that went in perfect and came out with a small pinhole crack in the bottom. It leaks. Unusable. I had two bowls come out with small cracks on the bottom but the inside is perfect. Usable. But not perfect.
On one mug the red color, again a long time favorite, popped off in a very small area. The clay is vitrified and the area is tiny, so it is still usable. But not perfect.
So here I am. I do have many nice pieces ready to go to the show. And I’d like to say all my work is perfect but as you can see, perfect doesn’t live here. Not in my studio anyway.
All I can say is I am an artist, working in the clay that I love and doing the very best that I can.