February 2010

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going incognito

The studio is open Monday through Friday by appointment as stated on the door front.  I need that flexibility to be able to attend to life.  Besides, the nature of the job requires that my hands be in things that most people wouldn’t care to touch…it’s dusty, messy and a little smelly.  If you breathe deep, you can catch that damp earthy aroma…mmm, clay.  If you slip your hand too far into a slop bucket – disturbing the organic material settled on the bottom – you’ll note a shift from wet dirt to “something died in there”.  It can bring tears to your eyes!  Mmmm, the smell of plastic clay.

wedged clay

~wedged clay

So then, the studio is open by appointment.  Nonetheless, I get a few persistant sales representatives knocking at the door.  Just what I need, 1500 magnets with my name on them.  They take a try at the locked door; not noticing me through the tinted windows, I continue working.

Recently another office supply sales rep came by.  After the second knock, he rang the bell.  So, I thought I’d poke my head out the door, reveal the nature of my work and send him on his way.

“No, thank you.  Really, I don’t need wholesale value bulk pens in three colors with my name on them.”

I open the door to a Vin Diesel look alike.  Not the Pitch Black Vin Diesel, more like the Vin Diesel from The Pacifier except younger with an ill-fitting suit.  He gave his schpeel and I explained to him that I was an artist, not in need of office supplies.  At this revelation his demeanor changed.  He told me that he was a 1999 BFA graduate from a New York art school associated with Pratt Institute.  He asked to see my work.  He shared about his work in sculpture and neon.  I mentioned a couple of foundries in the area.  He told me about his stint with one foundry – loved the work except summers were brutal.

He had come to the conclusion that he should focus on making a living – putting money aside every month until he had enough to live on so he could later concentrate on making art.  Not a bad plan.  In fact, he had developed a time line.  After so many sales in an X number of years, he felt he could live modestly off the interest to do what he was passionate about.  To make art.  When he left, I apologized for the non-sale and encouraged him to keep working toward his goal.

I’ve often wondered how many artists are out there in the world working incognito; putting off their passion for another day.  The thought occurs to me, what would the world look like if everyone pursued the work they were passionate about, the thing(s) they were called to?  I believe we would find ourselves in a very different place.

~Make Plans~

studio tour 2010

9th Annual Ceramic Self-Guided Studio Tour

9th Annual Ceramic Self-Guided Studio Tour
February 27 and 28, 10am to 4pm.

  • 16 studios with more than 50 artists will be represented
  • in-studio demonstrations at each site, throughout the weekend.

~make a note on your calendar:
Ceram-a-Rama: A (really) Progressive Clay Affair.  Saturday, March 6th. Silent auction and gala. RSVP: March 1st.

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an odd place

Have you ever bought something that turned out to be less than what you anticipated?  Lately I can’t help but feel a little like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, expectantly awaiting the arrival of his Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring.  Ahead lie the fantastic prospects of solving great mysteries only to be confronted by reality – a commercial for Ovaltine.

old blue

~ old blue

Several weeks ago, I set myself up for a change in my functional work; something that might more closely relate to my clay drawings.  I had come to the realization that I just wanted to draw on my work – a growing obsession – and went about developing a process to do so.

After testing the process to see if it was reproducible, I set out to glaze enough work to fill the kiln…well, relatively full (45 pieces).  Though I felt fairly comfortable with the application, this load would have work with three new glazes (glazes that were previously tested for reliability).  Other than color, I was moderately confident in the results.  I can’t say I saw much while unloading that I hadn’t envisioned when I closed the kiln lid.  I had done my homework.

new blue

~new blue

My disappointment doesn’t quite run parallel to the decoder ring debacle.  It’s not that I didn’t get what I expected in as much as I got exactly what I expected!  This is where I am – odd place.  The work itself is good, it’s fun to look at and handle.  But, it’s just not the same.  The same…that’s what brought me to the point of change.

You see, once I was limited to the use of an electric kiln, I worked to ‘recreate’ glaze surfaces that closely imitated reduction fired work.  However, the new pieces require a cleaner, more distinct contrast in value and color.  That is the part I’m having the most difficulty reconciling.  In an effort to compensate for the lost subtleties of the reduction-like surface, I created layers of surface information to provide some depth, allowed for and almost encouraged one glaze to blush onto the next and purposed dynamic lines.

It’s curious to pursue change and then be disappointed that things aren’t the same.  I need to live with this work a bit.  Not sure I love it…not yet.

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