Thursday, January 20, 2011

No Fear of Losing

There a days in the pottery studio when I need to remind myself to let go of my expectations. Generally those are the days that I open the kiln after a glaze firing. I never know what I'll find. As an artistic medium ceramics will allow the artist to lead the way for most of the journey, but in the final stages, you MUST surrender the piece to a variety of factors beyond your control. At that point, what will happen is never a given, no matter how many practice runs you may have made. 

Just a week or so ago, I was reminded that this is not just my own personal experience as a potter, but the journey of all studio potters. I stumbled upon a notice of Paul Soldner's death.

Paul Soldner (1921-2011) was incredibly influential to American ceramics, but it's his spirit rather than the many prestigious accolades he earned during his life that inspire me. He's well known for encouraging divergent thinking and teaching his students to embrace "mistakes". "In the spirit of raku," Soldner wrote in 1968, "there is a necessity to embrace the element of surprise. There can be no fear of losing what was once planned and there must be an urge to grow along with the discovery of the unknown."

If you've been following my blog, you might remember my November post about perspective. It's the one where I got over my disappointment about a glaze I'd made and discovered it was more interesting than I thought at first. I was pretty happy that I hadn't abandoned it completely, but my latest results with this glaze have really exceeded my expectations.

close-up of poppies mug, 2011
another close-up of poppies mug, 2011

I mentioned before, that I was struggling with a style that felt "right". I think that these new discoveries are beginning to shed light on where I'll be going in the coming months.

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