A local professor recently asked her circle of friends, “What were makers favorite points in their processes?”
The obvious answer is “all of it”, but I think for me, the real answer is “any point that embodies potential”. The word that I’m obviously grasping for is “Hope”. Any point where action meets my daydreams and I get to lean back in my chair and bask in hope for any and all potential futures… That’s my favorite point in the process.
Jess has been busy experimenting with linoleum block printing and I’ve been watching and learning. Seeing the design emerge from the block is fascinating. What first appears to be flimsy thin lines when cut, become strong and bold once inked. It’s that boldness that’s pulling me in.
The really engaging part was inadvertently backing into written discussions on the aesthetics and politics of the arts. First with R.G. Collingwood’s 1932 collection of essays “The Pricipales of Art” and William Morris’s 1888 7 lectures, specifically chapter 5, “The Aims of Art”.
“Recklessness is taken as a counterweight to all the errors of reason, that catalyst of misery, that accountant’s demand. The prestige of instinct is the traumatized reaction against too many centuries of unreasonable reason”
Alain de Botton
We go to art school to get dusted in artist’s sensibility, a rationality and sense of reason that can justify literally any action. It becomes obvious that an artist is good and educated when the beautiful, the lovely, exists solely to be deconstructed. an experience becomes superseded by an involuntary need to rationalize, to explain, a need to understand why something is lovely, or diving even deeper, how can lovely be arrived at. It quickly becomes a matter of reciting an equation or following a recipe to arrive at a desired result.
Admittedly, it’s all entertainment by this point, and one of Art’s many functions is just that… Entertainment
The pivot is when we choose to set reason aside and let instinct drive, chuck the “why” into the back seat… We don’t have to feed the need to rationalize our actions.
…”That” it matters takes can be allowed to take greater precedent than “why” it matters… a stance that openly advocates for a more personal and intuitive mode of making. In action, the “why” seems to take care of itself in due course.
It’s a bit like comparing Classical chamber music with Jazz… rote vs interpretive. Both can be beautiful, but the results are very, very different.
Note to self… Just make the fuck’n work and figure out what your id is saying afterwords please. If you want to make a rooster… make a fuck’n rooster. All the fluff that’s around it can play itself out as it plays out.
I like the metaphor of seeing each work as a stepping stone. Each leading to the next. A path leading from one daydream to another. From the perspective of the maker, it’s an intensely subjective experience. From the outside, we see each work as an end unto itself.
Art need not be a process. Art can still be a tool to help us relate to and decipher our own inner world. For both the artist and the viewer, art can be transformative. I feel that I am at my best when I’m reaching for something just outside of my own understanding.
I’d like to think that it’s the commonality of that struggle that speaks directly to others. It’s the universality of struggle that is so relatable, but ultimately the audience is silent and I’m left with just myself. Just me alone, inside my own head, watching the busy hands pull me along.
The lesson has been that polish that’s put to each stone in the path is merely the result of a soul in joyful celebration of a greater miracle, creating wonder as a Lover, not as a banker totaling his piles of success.
All the work shown was done in collaboration with ceramic artist, the fair Lady Fong.
Studio note: the SAG Shino went on a bit too thick. The readability was still good, but it bubbled. After grinding the tops off the bubbles, I’m filling them with a yellow underglaze and refireing. I enjoy the strong character of this round. It’ll be worth seeing how it develops.
SAG Shino used again. Thinner application but still a very dry, matt surface came out of the kiln. I think the soda ash has left the glaze as water in the solution became absorbed by the bisque. Dispite that, a light buffing with a diamond pad softened the surface.
We’ve been burning micro-batches all week testing out clay/glaze/slip combos at cone 7 in a small test kiln. I wasn’t intending on getting hooked on firing this way, but there are a lot of upsides.
The big one is that I keep my risk levels to a minimum by firing 5-7 cups per load. That’s right… 5-7 cups tops. So I can make a decision and either get a result that doesn’t quite work for me (like the above piece) or hit the mark and keep rolling, or screws the pooch, swing the hammer, and make adjustments and try again. It makes it easier to accept one off characters of questionable aesthetics for their uniqueness, after all, there’s only one or two of the buggers rather than a sizable chunk of a proper sized kilnload.
The above work is a good example… I really enjoy this piece. It’s readable with a decent composition, but it’s surface is fucked up. Strangely comfortingly fucked up. Because there’s only one of these, rather than a dozen, it’s allowed to be what it is… a very nice piece.
Granted, the small kiln isn’t exactly economical, but it’s a trade off. It is perfect for doing some serious R&D. It’s flexible, and the small kilnload size doesn’t just allow for flexibility, flexibility is its greatest strength, (not a bad strength to have) and in turn, it allows us to be flexible as well.
Frankly, for me, it’s reenforcing a point of view that studio life can and should be more about the joy of passion play rather than merely the pursuit of products. It’s about using the Arts to create a lifestyle that’s worth living rather than a life trapped in a hamster wheel of our own making. After all,we’re not doing this to make a living… We’re doing it to live.
p.s. All the work on this page are collabs with the lovely Lady Fong 🙂
Not sure what the results of this round are yet. I’m still flush with the memories of meeting all of the challenges that continuously kept popping up. I was starting to feel sorry for what my partner was going through. She was watching me ruin piece after piece after piece by taking too many risks. As collaborators, it’s not an insignificant loss, and as the shard pile grows, any reasonable person is expected to seriously begin to question the path we were wandering on. She didn’t, but most would have. The reasoning was that buried in all the faults, there was too many interesting things happening.
Now that everything is finally coming into focus, I’m finding that I’m so fixated on the details as the pieces come out of the test kilns, that I can’t see any of the work as a whole yet.
Without any (easy) options for getting any critical feedback, this round of work needs to get packed away into boxes and set aside for a spell while we move on.
Right now though, I’m enjoying the delightful symphony of faults.
Small test kiln firing to cone 7. Turned on at 6pm 6/22, finished and cooled by morning.
Glazed using a thin application of SAG Shino over a Duncan black underglaze wash with a Fritted White Liner interior and a dipped and brushed foot ring.
Testing the shino, and it’s interaction with Fritted White liner at the rim and the underglaze as it’s taken up to cone 10 in electric.
The results were pretty good. Nicely textured surface. The yellow ocher dots add further texture. The white liner and the SAG Shino did well together with minor crazing where the two overlap at the lip. The lip needed slight sanding to finish. The speckled buff clay used players well with the shino, the red stoneware tested in the same kiln load didn’t work.
Glazed using a medium thick Mag Carb White Liner glaze (I need to rename this glaze, I keep mistakingly using it thinking it’s actually the Mag Carb glaze) with a Fritted White Liner interior and foot ring.
The glazes, slips, and the clay body do well together. It still needs something to pop the design, possibly a blue or underglaze wash… or maybe it’s fine just the way it is.