Thursday, January 26, 2012

Developing an Idea

Last May, at a pottery street sale in England I saw ceramic whiteboards for sale. Whiteboards? Noteboards? About 6"x 9" ceramic slabs, like tiles, which you can write on with dry erase markers and eraser. I never imagined the possibility, assumed the usual commercial whiteboards were some special material. I asked the maker for permission to copy her idea, and promised to sell them only 6000 miles away. She agreed, and I've been trying them.

First, low fire white clay so the boards are less likely to warp than clay in a higher temperature firing. I tried 2 clear glazes, one clearly came out smoother. That's it. The potter I am copying from makes ocean inspired pieces, so stamped shell figures on her noteboards. She hangs the boards from rough string. I'd like it somewhat fancier, and I have an idea and materials from decorated jars I have been making. Like this:

So instead of string, I used fabric ribbons and beads to hang the boards. I imagined them on dorm room doors. Here's the first fairly successful result:

Fairly successful? Not a wonderful stamp and the picture takes up a fair amount of the writing surface. Try a smaller, more elegant decoration. Round the corners.

It's more or less smooth and I assume the surface needs to be smooth. I shaped it with a slab roller. Oops, got to be really careful that the plastic surface underneath is smooth. It's also about 1/4" thick and rather heavy for the size. So try thinner. I rolled some on drywall, with a rolling pin, without plastic in between, for a very smooth surface. Some came out fine, some stuck to the drywall, can't pry it off even when dry. No idea what makes the difference. I cut a rectangle, rolled some more and got  a very uneven edge. I like it.

Lighter in weight, they can be a bit bigger; that's more useful. Skip the stamps altogether, they seem fussy. Use more interesting beads.

This is where I am now. I've rolled some on plywood, like the faint wood pattern, though I don't know if the writing will be clear. Forget the drywall. What instead? Silicone sheets? Paper? The wood pattern suggests a light wood color. Maybe they don't have to be white.

For me, an idea develops like this. I have seen artists' notebooks with a developmental series of sketches. I've seen pots with designs planned out carefully and sketched on the pot in pencil. I am more inclined to try something I've seen and liked, then vary it by intent or mistake or what comes out. One outcome suggests another variation. Technically described, there are several kinds of (or ways to) creative thinking. Mine seems to be this, putting together elements from disparate sources, in a varying, wandering way.