Friday, September 10, 2010

Back in the saddle

Growing up with the name Horsman, I think I've earned the right to use references to horses even if I don't actually have one [Note: If you're confused, my name is actually pronounced horseman, sometimes even spelled with the "e" and I especially dislike the alternate pronunciation that some people apply quite innocently I'm sure.] But back to the point of this post and why it's been so long since the last one.

I must confess that I have been struggling with finding a style or technique that really feels right. I've been trying lots of things out, both functional pieces and also things intended purely as art work. I've been reading all sorts of books and doing lots of internet research. For a while I decided to stop reading and researching and just to play with the clay, but then I became obsessed with rearranging my studio. For some reason things just didn't seem to be in the "right" place and it was really bothering me. A fortune cookie at a local Chinese restaurant confirmed my affliction by saying "You are sensitive to your surroundings." I was reading this cookie wisdom inside the grey cubicle walls where I was working at the time, but even after leaving that job to work with clay full time, I still find that I am sensitive to my space. BUT... and here is the crux, I don't always know how I want the space to be. I've got lots of ideas. Too many really!!! It's another affliction that plagues me in both interior design and in pottery design.

Just a couple days ago, I came across Kristin Muller's take on personal style (in The Potter's Studio Handbook). She says that "Discovering personal style is part of the intellectual journey of an artist.".  I stumbled upon this quote about the same time that I actually felt like I was having  bit of a break through. I had just moved from feeling overwhelmed by the nearly infinite possibilities and I am starting to feel rewarded by the research I've been doing. I've got a couple distinctly different but very appealing [to me] "styles" that I plan to work with over the next year.

I like the idea of staying with these for at least a year. A full circle of seasons, ending and beginning and ending. I'm anxious to see what the year will bring. Now the busy work begins.

I'm not sure what most people envision when they think of the life of a potter, but I'm pretty sure it probably doesn't resemble how I spent my morning. First, bent over a bucket of reclaim clay that I was trying to mix by hand only to discover that I should have tried standing up much sooner as I was now nearly permanently fixed in that position with clay up to my elbows. Later on with dust mask and safety goggles, electric jigsaw in hand, ready to attack a piece of scrap mdf board that I was about to turn into a new slump mold. It was a pretty productive morning: three new slump molds, one more bag of recycled clay another on the plaster to be prepped tomorrow. If this is how you picture life in a pottery, you're probably a potter yourself.

While wielding the power tools this morning my mind drifted off to my horoscope this week. Probably not the safest thing to do, but it happens. I'm not really into astrology but one in The Coast always seems to have something that I can relate to.  This week the message was essentially 'Isn't it time for you to circle back and reclaim an early part of you that got lost along the way?' All appendages still intact, I began to reflect on the seven year old me. The girl who had completely filled in her math note book with beautiful doodles all through the margins. No blank space was wasted. Everything was adorned with some kind of personal embellishment. Despite the fact that all the math work was done accurately and on time, my teacher's response to this was to keep my behind after school to completely rewrite everything in my scribbler without the artistic additions. I'm sure she had her reasons; though even at this point in my life, I'm still not quite sure what her point was. This was probably the first time I was really punished for something at school. So that got me thinking, what else had I been punished for... oh yeah, drinking from the water fountain without permission on the way back from the library when I was 10. Geez they were strict, eh??? The punishment for that was 100 or maybe 500 lines of "I will not drink from the water fountain without permission." or something like that. I don't recall exactly, but what I do recall is that I quickly developed a solution (although I'm sure I didn't invent this myself) of using multiple pens fastened together so that I could write multiple parallel lines at the same time. Bingo! This was the solution to a small problem I was having designing the slump mold. Problem solved. Thanks to Mr. Steeves and the water fountain incident. I'm sure with time, my inner child will solve the rest of my problems too.

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