One of my most favorite things that I learned while studying ceramics is the Japaense aesthetic of wabi-sabi. When I first learned about wabi-sabi, I always defined it as finding perfection in the imperfections. An article I read today brings the definition closer and hits the nail on the head.
“Wabi-sabi, at its best, is a rich way of life. Or, at the minimum, it’s to be respected as a type of beauty. To sum it up, it’s a departure from perfection, and instead a finding peace of peace in our relationship with our environment. It’s a rustic approach to discovering the artful, finding the beauty in things imperfect, impermanent, incomplete. It seeks the modest and humble—the unconventional.”
The article also touches on four main guidelines tied to wabi-sabi:
- Nothingness and Simplicity
- See the Overlooked in Nature
- Acceptance of the Inevitable
- A Focus on the Intrinsic
I wish I had something more profound to say on this subject, but at the moment my brain is toast. The article is more than worth the read, so check it out, yo!
READ IT HERE!
I found my way back into the studio last night. I had managed to throw one decent looking pot on Saturday and now it was time to trim it. Trimming a pot is a really interesting and fun part of the process. Some potters do much of the shaping of a piece during this stage. It’s a satisfying feeling when you’re trimming and the strips of clay just curl right off the pot. I have a tendency to throw pots really shallow on the base and the trimming of the foot always worries me. I’ve broken right through many a pot because of this and was relieved that this one turned out just fine. After trimming, I got right to work with painting a design with black and white underglaze. The pot was/is at the perfect consistency for painting and carving away to reveal the clay beneath the glaze. For whatever reason, I’ve always been drawn to spirals and curling organic shapes. They seem to appear in many of my sketches and now my pottery, too. I got to work on a loose design idea I had in mind and went to town. I’m still figuring out how to finish it up, but here are some shots of the process thus far.
My recent trip to Arizona provided me with some much needed pottery inspiration. I’ve always been intrigued by pottery of the desert southwest. I remember one of the first pots I made in high school was in some sort of southwestern style. I’ve been throwing with red clay (terra cotta) for the past two years now and I can’t seem to go back to the bland, beige stoneware. There’s just something about that rusty, earthy color that I absolutely love. I’ve also started to stray away from using many colors of underglazes. While I do love the bright colors that underglazes provide, I’ve mainly been sticking with a limited palette of purely black and white. It’s a striking contrast against the terra cotta. Here are a few samples of where I see my next pieces heading. Some of these are very, very old and the others are a little more contemporary. The intricacy and patterns of these are so cool. I’m excited to put a twist on this style and mix it with my own aesthetics. We’ll see what happens!
I’m officially back in the pottery studio for the winter months. I feels so good to be back, I’ve missed my time in here quite a bit. I didn’t really realize it until last night. I just love to sit in there and work away in silence, my thoughts mostly on the task at hand and getting lost in my work. I unpacked my supplies and eyed up my largest bowl thrown to date, as it sat on the shelf half finished. I gathered my thoughts and tried to remember my plans for the design. I’m using only black and white velvet underglazes and a sgrafitto technique to decorate this bowl. It’s looking borderline horror vacui (Latin for fear of empty space) at the moment, but I’m digging it. We’ll see where it goes…
Here are a few shots of some work that I never posted on here. I don’t know why I didn’t post them, probably just forgot! A couple of these items were in the Mad Women exhibit this past summer. Two of the jewelry pieces belong to my mom and the pottery has been hanging out comfortably on the shelves at home. With winter approaching, it’s time to get back to working with clay and spending time at home making jewelry while listening to records. This is the perfect time of year to refocus on creating. I bought a new sketch book the other night and I look forward to filling it with new designs for pottery and jewelry.
While perusing Etsy this afternoon on my lunch break, I came across an interview with the potter behind the beautiful works of Clam Lab. One part of her interview really struck me and is so relevant to not only pottery, but also to many other parts of our lives. Be in love with the process.
“Anyone who works in clay knows about letting go. So much can go wrong. Pots break, kilns misfire — it’s foolish to be attached to a fixed outcome. The only survival strategy is to be in love with the process. I make products, but my real work is the practice.”
This weekend was very productive for me! Let me rephrase that, Saturday evening and Sunday were very productive. I didn’t actually get out of my pjs ’til 2:30 pm on Saturday. I haven’t had a day like that in…I can’t remember when. Much needed I’m sure. Regardless of how Saturday began—I got started on a couple of homemade Christmas gifts, went for a swim (it was way too cold for any xc-skiing of any sort) and threw the largest bowl of my entire life on Sunday night! I’ll have to go back tonight to check on it. Things have been drying so fast at the studio. I lost two bowls this past week. I don’t want to lose the three bowls that I threw last night, so I’m keeping a close eye on them this week. Time to let some surface design ideas stew in my brain for this big bowl. Pictures to follow hopefully!
Yesterday I was offered a ceramic studio space at the DAI! I’m so excited to have this opportunity and I can’t wait to make some more pottery! I have a lot of new ideas I want to try … stay tuned!
I’m finally posting pics of my pottery that I finished up about a month ago. Whew! Things have been busy. I really like the way they turned out. I’m also in the process of interviewing to get a studio space at the Duluth Art Institute. Keep your fingers crossed for me! You can get a better look at them by clicking this link.
Tonight we are having the final kiln opening at the pottery studio. I have three pieces that have been done for a little while, but the rest of them come out tonight! I’m really excited to see how they’ve turned out. I’ve enjoyed the last 10 weeks in the studio and am proud of how my skills have progressed over this short time. I took a couple of pics of one of my favorites that I gave as a gift. I’ll take pics of the others in the next couple of days and post those as well. (Please disregard my dusty windowsill, my cleaning skills haven’t progressed as nicely.)