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The studio is often time for me to be alone. I need to be alone (with David Gilmour of course). However, I do love having a session with my girl. Today, I showed her how to carve the bottom of one of my recent projects on the wheel. Then she moved on to tiles, pinch pots, and then a bunny.
I took a workshop at Yonder studio on Saturday (studio of ceramic artist Linda Fahey). It was beyond amazing. I learned so much! Malia Landis taught the class. She is an incredibly talented artist and such a wonderful teacher. I enjoyed so much of what she shared, especially the tidbits, like "wait, I am the boss, I can do this however I want" giving me the chance to see how connected I am to this process and others in it.
There were about 9 of us there that day. I didn't know what to expect, but left feeling so incredibly inspired and full of new ideas and possibilities.
We then went through several tutorials on different types of flowers and techniques for leaves, petals, etc.
I would love to spend more time there and just get lost in this work. I plan to experiment with this clay in the studio as soon as possible. I have a few visions I would love to figure out.
I have a vision of what I want to make. I just haven't figured out how to do it. Today was another five-hour obsession. No water, breaks, food, or sitting. No talking. Just Pink Floyd. Leaves me feeling a little like drunk.
I felt I was going as fast as possible to finish. I don't know enough about how the clay dries at this width to stop before I completed it. I found some plastic and wrapped it so I can tweak on the finishing for a few hours tomorrow. I keep questioning what the hell I'm doing. But I know its working. The plan was to take time off work and create something. Get hooked again. If I don't get hooked, I'll remember this time. It's all a stepping stone to whatever is next.
I know I am too stressed/stretched right now. I know it's up to me to identify the parts that need adjustment, retooling, or simply need to go. I also know I want more than what I've figured out yet. This state is part of the process.
This studio time should be in the morning.
I'm not sure how I'm going to fold this into my regular life. I work so much. It's relentless. This studio time has given me space and a certain kind of movement, allowing me to clear my system of task lists and problem-solving. A break from computer screens and tired eyes, meeting expectations and going beyond, of thinking through the implications and juggling too many priorities. It took me a week of working in here to stop stressing out about the tasks at my job.
I have room in my mind. For the first time in a long time, there is room. I need to make to find this room. Wandering, pleasing, explaining, and guiding does not make the space. Making makes the space.
This was the first day I entered with a mission. It's been such a long time since I've been in this work. There are so many experiments running through my mind. I started by creating an equilateral triangle the width of the nearest straight edge (a box for a broken thermostat). I used the same triangle and joined them all into a form. Slowly learning how to keep the flats the flat and the seams strong, yet smooth. Each joint is different. I got completely lost in this process. Five hours later, I completed the form, created the slab cup and scrapper critter, then called home to give an update. Before I arrived, I picked up some roasted tomato and fennel soup and my favorite tortilla chips. I ate half before I started and thankfully saved some for the end of my day.
I remember this feeling. Starving, uncomfortable, forgetting my body's needs and just being in this space of creating. The last time I felt this was 11 years ago when I took time off work to paint. I produced some of my greatest work during those three weeks. I'm obsessed with trying to figure out how to be here once I start back at work. I don't want to lose this. I need this time to be messy, keyed into the sounds of the materials, and lost in creating - not for anything or anyone.
I met some of my studio mates today. They came by to visit their work and assess when they might be able to fire the next round. We chatted a bit. I explained myself in a nutshell. When we said goodbye, he said "practice detachment", a bit under his breath. Knowing how open I was about my stress levels and "need" for this time, I understood and felt perfectly right in that time and space.
The end of the wedged clay becomes the slab cup, but what of the scrap of the cup? This portion has turned into mini figurines that my fingers decide on. I give myself 2-3 minutes to do these, then run out the door.
I couldn't produce anything new on the wheel today. I did, however, use my muscle memory to carve feet for the three I made yesterday. By the third one, I realized the foot doesn't have to be limited by the body of the piece. I'm not quite sure what that means, but I do know it makes me dizzy - this process - and that my left knee hurts if I sit at the wheel for too long. Also, my fingers get stuck in weird positions while I'm hand building.
Conclusion, it's working. Don't stop.
...keeps the stress, anxiety, rabbit-hole thoughts away. Each day at the studio there is a point when I check the time and need to leave but still have clay left. So, I use it to make a slab cup. Each day I approach it with a little more thought. Each day I realize once again how much I have to learn.
They humble me and yet keep me calm knowing I have the challenge defined and can come back whenever I need the "struggle fix".
It's just a tiny step forward, connecting to my first love; working with my hands. It's been 22 years since I attempted to throw a pot. Here it is in all it's centered-like-I'm-41 glory. Tomorrow I will attempt a foot.
Feeling the process of centering the clay is like nothing else. The process is faster for me now, but keeping it centered while attempting to turn it into something is where I struggle. There is a mirror leaning on the wall in front of the wheel. I didn't understand it until I got going. A bit like riding a bike or, better yet, using a sewing machine. I know all the moves, I just need to find my way.
When I was teaching I used this method below to help get the kids who struggled to create something tangible. This one is a meditation. Small rolled balls squished into a form. The next day I removed the form and centered the base so it won't roll around once fired.
When I'm at the studio, I need something to figure out. If I lose the struggle, I lose interest and want to go home and binge watch - whatever. This is the work.
I love a good pinch pot. It's the best way for me to get my fingers and senses warmed up. I brought my girl the first day and we both made some lovely bowls. I have progressed on to a series of pots – free-pinching, pinching into bowl forms, and recently pinching legs into feet for a tripot. This is my go-to when I'm not sure what to do and just need to get moving.