Wednesday, January 18, 2012

a blank canvas: New Year, new opportunities, and an age old dilemma

I did something slightly nuts over New Year... I fired 3 kiln-loads of porcelain, wanting some very specific pieces glazed and ready to ponder their metalwork and gemstone additions. It added up to very late nights and early mornings - with not nearly as much whisky as I would have liked (but I can always catch up on that).

I was finally flirting with the first pieces in a long anticipated body of work. I think I know what they might be like when they’re finished - I’ve seen them in the movies my brain runs long after my hands have stopped working, they seem fabulous - so colourful, lush, ancient looking.

Blank porcelain bisque, and glaze samples
But first, I had to overcome a situation many potters fear: the room full of bisque. Clean, white, totally blank. The pots look like the pieces that I made, and yet they don’t. Strangers - all of them - sitting around in my tiny studio, intimidating me every time I passed.

I had set them out around the room, and then spent at least 5 days staring at them, trying to sketch colours, feeling increasingly nauseous as the time passed, Christmas break becoming New Year… Knowing that each firing was a minimum 48 hour process, no time to spare. Especially as we enjoyed a crazy unseasonal warm spell, likely my only firing window until March.


Not sure how I started the glazing, and then it was just a frenzy: careful notes turning into some semi-conscious mindbody relationship with buckets of glaze and paint brushes! I just went at those blank pots, barely able to wait until they were dry to do another coat, dripping extra colours and overglazes.

They all got fired. But then I had to leave them packed away in boxes for another handful of days, strangers again: some surprises, disappointments, complete unknowns. A few instant love affairs with pieces that came from the kiln screaming their joy in their shiny new look.

And now I am interviewing a herd of pots on the dining room table, asking them about metalwork and gemstones, trying to figure out what they might like to become next. They've already sat there for a week of 2012, the 'canvas' now not quite so blank - more pictures to come as the work develops.

Close-up of the glazed surface of a hand built porcelain bowl

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