Summer Study Session

Blah blah blah… We all know that we need to show up everyday in our studio to keep the ball rolling. It’s not as much a habit as a lifestyle. Lately, dispite making work in my head all day while working in the field, I havn’t been setting aside large blocks of time to devote to doing the dirty work out in the ceramic studio. It’s not an excuse to not do things, rather, it’s a reason to make sure a few important things get done. 

This summer I wanted to concentrate on putting some real, tangible effort into learning how to dial in a few details. Pulling the rims as they were being thrown needed a hand cut foot to resolve the form. That meant I needed to figure out how to actually hand cut a consistent, good looking foot. Not only did it need to look good, but it has to feel good. It always comes back to balance. With your eyes closed, it has to feel good in your hand.

I was told decades ago, that any process that you want to learn, start by doing it 100 times and then see where you stand.

I know for a fact that this is a valid stradgy and it works, but I learned quickly to cheat, I’m not looking for shortcuts, I’m looking for anything that can start getting results while going through a learning curve. What I’ve found that gets results for is working through the process in multiple cycles of small  batches (in this case making 12 to 24 teacups at a time) before stopping to evaluate and make changes and then diving back in. Its still safe to assume that it’s going to take a 100 plus to dial a new process in, but course corrections happen more effeciantly and organically using shorter cycles.

There’s a lot of loss (ok…it’s mostly loss), but that’s the process. What more integral to the lesson than loss is the editing. Some happens during the process, but most editing needs to happen after the kilns cool. Often the mistakes that we make have nothing to do with our skill stacks, the mistakes grow out of our assumptions. Our assumptions of what’s going to engage or just please someone (or even ourselves) before the work is finished.

Often it’s better to just sit back and relax, using our intuition, challenge ourself, applying what we know, and see how it works out.

Fine tuning the details is definitely worth the effort.  Don’t settle with vanilla.

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