Sunday, September 22, 2013

Inspiration can come from anywhere......

This is one of my favorite movies.

And when I finished the piece below, I named it, "Count Olaf".

I chuckle every time I look at it.

The piece is about seven inches tall, made by slabbing out some porcelain, impressing it with pieces of styrofoam packing material, a sea shell, comb, and a palm-sized piece of car tail light picked up in a parking lot.

Really, I started with a freeform teardrop shape for the base.

For the sides, I made a pattern drawn on newspaper and cut out makes the shape for the two sides of the piece.

I join the two sides using a score tool and clay worms and coax it into a standing form. This has to be done by using a very light touch because I'm working with rather wet clay. I prefer to join these kinds of pieces while they are soft. It makes for better seams. I have to be very careful not to disturb the outside design.

I shape the spout, making it bulge at the base, roll the back over and smoothing it out.

I put the flattened ball of clay 'button' at the point where the form makes a radical change. This is really to reinforce the change of direction that stresses the clay. And it makes a very good design element.

I also manipulate the form mostly from the inside with dampened fingers, pushing it in or out to manipulate and emphasize the curves. And I lightly support the outside while I'm doing it.

The glaze is an iron glaze with a creamy rutile liner and the piece is fired at a cone 5/6 oxidation.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Jottings: "Art Advice"

Since, at the moment I don't have access to clay or equipment, I have been spending time "cleaning out" my computer.

 "My dirty old computer"-that commercial cracks me up.


**Segway Warning**

Can you become a computer hoarder?
I think so.



In my frustration and because my MAC is now screaming to me that the Startup Disc is full and I can't download things and need to unload files,  I ran across a stored document called,

 Art Advice: Random Thoughts about You and Your Work

The first 10 years are the hardest.

Break a lot of bad pots.
Keep a lot of bad pots, but only as a reference.

Surrender to your art. 
Recognize it is an organic need for you. 
Don't apologize for taking time to pursue it.

Follow every impulse. 

Do It, 
Even though it has not been done before by you or anyone else. 
Even if it seems crazy, 
Do it.

Don’t persist in trying to ‘heal’ a bad pot; chuck it and make a better one.

Strive to know your flaws and work to correct them.
Learn from your mistakes.. 
Make notes about your mistakes so you will remember them.

Keep your best work.

Find other artists to talk to. They understand creative madness.

Flex your creative muscles every day:  
Sketch, read, dream, plan, make:  
Whatever needs doing and whatever dreaming need to be dreamed. 
Make it a daily habit. 
Inches add up to miles.

Photograph everything you make.

Take notes about your work. Your initial intention, the happy mistakes that happen, techniques, inspirations, whatever you will need to think about, whatever you see or do. You may think you'll remember later, but sometimes ideas are fleeting. 
You don't want them to get away.

Search out your own truth and keep returning to your own themes.

Keep pictures or examples of your inspirations.

Copying an IDEA is good; duplicating another artist’s WORK---not so good.  
It robs them and robs you.

Build a reference library: Keep the books that are relevant, sell the others

Avoid looking at ugly.

Listen to everybody. 
Ignore bad advice.  

Keep only what feeds you.

Strive to master the medium.

Don’t worry about Style, worry about Skill.

Set your standards high. 
I mean HIGH. 
So high you will always have to chase them.

Don’t worry or ask yourself, ‘Is it good enough?’ 
It’s good enough until you can make better.

Find your market niche.

If you need a tool, figure out how to find it or make it.  
If you can’t, find a good craftsman to make it for you.

Take care of your tools.

Keep learning. Don't rely on somebody else to teach everything you need to know. 
Teach yourself whenever you can; you will learn better that way.

Find your own best work environment, be it solitude or group, silence, music or talk, sloppy or neat, etc. 

If a piece does not sell, pack it up and don't look at it for a long time. Then, unpack it and look at it again. Decide if it should be kept, sold or destroyed.

Don't offer anything for sale you would be embarrassed to see again.

Live with your pots. What looks great today may not look so great tomorrow. And surprisingly, vice versa.

Don't get into a rut. 
Everybody's work changes even a little bit. Embrace it.

Don't take yourself too seriously, but seriously enough.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


How can I explain CLAYART? 

It is an internet community of people involved in clay: Artists, publishers, gurus, authors, equipment experts, educators, amateurs, gallery owners, hobbyists, newbies and old hands.

The physical boundaries have no end. Anywhere that an internet and computer are available, CLAYART exists. It is one enormous club. There are no dues, no initiation, no jury, only the requirements of civility and everyday grace you would exhibit and experience.

After a NCECA convention in Las Vegas about 18 years ago, an email discussion group that would evolve into CLAYART was formed to carry on the dialogue that had been started by the conference. The initial group wanted to continue the flow of information about all things clay. And we wanted to keep up the network that had begun with other potters.

Today. it has grown into a huge population with a daily traffic that can amount to around 100 messages or more. (I really don't keep track.) That could be daunting if you set out to read every word of every email, but you quickly learn to pick and choose what is relevant to your own environment and delete (in my case, mercilessly) that which you judge can be eliminated. Most of the time, the Subject Line and the sender will tip you off as to whether you choose to read or not. I pass up raku or woodfiring, for instance.

And, a subject-word-keyed archive can be used to research a particular question that might arise, so elimination of messages doesn't usually mean they are gone forever.

Additionally, once you are enrolled, you can address the CLAYART "Brain" to ask an open question. The avalanche of replies or opinions will almost fall from the screen. We are a helpful and giving folk in the main.

It is helpful, as in any new environment, to sit back and observe the protocols and 'lurk' until you're comfortable, but it you have a bad problem or want to respond right away, that's okay too.

Mel Jacobson (or "The Mayor" runs it most of the time along with a couple of other volunteers and serves as a basically hands-off moderator yet knows when to 'send us to our rooms' when things occasionally get too hot or protracted. In other words, telling us to 'ride that dead horse outta here.' But in a good way.

Current discussion has included the question of making donations to charity. (You cannot write off the price of the piece you give, contrary to common folklore; only the cost of your materials can be taken off your income taxes. The discussion suggests how to say, 'no' politely and some win-win solutions for dealing with organizers.)

Make a visit by joining. (link below) Get your toes wet. Follow the directions and wait. It won't be long until your mailbox will be bubbling with a plethora of subjects.

Beside being an internet discussion group, CLAYART is also a sub-community that meets within the yearly NCECA (National Council for Education in the Ceramic Arts) convention.  

Depending on the year and circumstances, CLAYART secures a large meeting-type room at the location for the group meeting place  throughout the time of the convention in order to relax, talk, show our work, trade, present mini-programs and meet in real-time with members  manifest in the flesh who we have come to know from the ether. 

At the end of the convention, we have a mug exchange drawing which is great fun.

We all walk around NCECA with our nametags showing a red dot as a way of recognizing each other amid the masses. (People involved in clay are for the most part a truly friendly lot anyway.)