Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Orphans & Oddments" to the Rescue!

We had dishes for 6 (which is how many we are this year) for Passover dairy meals, but 2 more guests arriving for lunch. To the kiln room! The Orphans & Oddments section! Two plates that didn't match anything the rescue.

Lots of salads, and not enough bowls- same meal- back to the kiln room for two bowls. Here are two tureens, one red with blue interior and one pale green, both orphans because their lids met with accident... presto. Salad bowls.

They are with the dairy dishes here, as are two pots which came upstairs way back: the mug with the slight fissure above the handle, and the oval fish platter with the slightly rough glaze I made back in the '90s.

But we are having coffee! And there is no milk pitcher! Another trot downstairs, back to Orphans & Oddments, to the funky little creamer that didn't match anything else and has been ignored, gathering dust for quite a long time.

And the washing cup we used before got chipped, so last year I brought up this blue one from the kiln room. It has a thin spot on the glaze inside and had been put on the seconds shelf...

My very own little Shop of Oddments. So handy.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Balancing Materials, Process and Gallery

Found a rubber band in my sweatshirt pocket. I must've been cooking when I put it there. It is a fat purple band with Produce printed all over it.

When I was small, I loved rubber bands. I made weird-bounce balls out of them. They came in handy for all sort of things. You could shoot paper wads with them. You could keep together your favorite pencils. Before coated hair elastics, you could use one to make your pony tail. (Ouch.) Truth. I couldn't resist a good rubber band.

I saved buttons, too, for their colors and textures. Anything that could be used to draw with, I saved: chalk, burnt charcoal ends of sticks, pencils, pens, markers. The sharp end of a little hard stick could be dipped into a squished mulberry (we had some trees) for ink. Anything was fair game and it was all interesting material, particularly on a long summer day.

Material. Ah, this is a good place to be inspired. The natural world and also the man-made world are full of material. While my work is organic in sensibility, I like the visual appeal of bridges and oil derricks, concrete barriers and metal lattice, oil drums and crossbeams. And if you walk with me, you will know I also can't help the tactile materials: I pick up leaves, smell blossoms, trace the shapes of petals with my fingers, pick up colorful or shapely pebbles and closely examine the texture of bits of bark. Sometimes I've been known to hug a tree because it's so damn beautiful and because it is so smooth or so rough. I still (as in childhood) keep bits of flotsam here and there (a box of frosted smooth chips of beach glass!) though mostly I toss these things away, after perhaps storing the sense of them somehow in my head.

Material is also where clutter comes from. Texture bits: cloth, lace, corrugated pieces of cardboard, onion bag mesh. Fresh leaves, and leaf skeletons. Dried sheets of corn husk, grid patterned packing material, peach pits and grooved cedar sachet balls, all can be rolled or pressed into clay. What is clutter? If you watch Hoarders, a reality show to 'scare straight' the collector in all of us, clutter is that situation that overwhelms, that takes over, that represents blind madness. But mine is not just potential texture, but actual and often used. If you open a couple of plastic totes and bins on my studio shelves, potential clutter has been pared way down into the truly usable, and turned into organized and happily accessible textural treasure. (Except for that four-drawer bin of variously sized frame corner samples, from the framer that went out of business...what can I do with those..? Hmm.)

Creativity and the material that furthers it need balance.

It is good now and then to reorganize, or, in my case soon, renovate.

One of the renovation plans (so far on paper) is to build a wall between my workspace and my soon-to-be-rebuilt gallery space. In this dividing wall, I will put a pair of French doors, which have glass panes that gallery visitors can look through into the studio. They'll be able to see my potter's wheel, slab rolling table, tools and texture items, pottery in progress, and a small class workshop space. When people can make some sense of How & Where the Pottery Is Made, their experience looking at the art is naturally enhanced. There may be some people as interested as I am in the balancing act that is materials + raw process + fired process, all the integration of parts that lead to the finished object displayed in the gallery.

Another use of a found rubber band: Stretching the imagination.