Thursday, December 31, 2015

Working Outdoors

Surely most potters have worked outdoors, in the 12000 years people have been making pottery. Not now, though I do. My "studio" is the backyard. I live in a warm, dry climate; why not?

Here's the view from my wheel, in winter position, i.e., in the sun.

And the studio ceiling

Nice, isn't it? Lovely, actually. Many activities we usually do indoors seem to have an extra joy when moved outdoors. I love making pots in the yard, despite leaves, sticks and seeds in the clay or glaze.

But it gets cold, and is inefficient. Run an extension cord from the house, cover the wheel with a tarp between uses. And with the wheel in the sunny spot, my tables are across the yard, the water bucket is in the way, the storeroom is around the corner of the house and up steps.

Worth it though. Now we've got a wet winter predicted. Can't make this work in the rain. What will I do for the next few months?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Meeting Failure

Wow, what a mess. I made yarn bowls for an order, in my favorite and often just fine glaze. Picked them up last week and found this.

They've got measles, badly.

When the glaze comes out well, it's like this, wonderful.

I'm much struck by my reaction and what it says. I took a look at the diseased bowls and stood around for maybe 20 minutes in real shock and horror. Then I went for information, asked others who use this glaze, checked other pots in this kiln load with similar clays and the same glaze. Yes, those came out ok. What in the world did I do wrong? Other people casually said, yes this glaze tends to bubble; but it hasn't for me. Certainly I've never seen such a severe case. I found it hard even to look at the pots.

This is an order for 2 big yarn bowls, to hold 2 balls of yarn each. I made 4, so some would be ok, even though problems happen. That's a lot of material, work and kiln space. The buyer was in no rush, but I hurried, wanting them available before the studio closed for Christmas break, and then took maybe several weeks to glaze fire again.

After some time, I found a way forward, thought what I could offer the buyer. That made it less horrible, though still difficult to pack the pots and to show them to my husband. I found them actually repulsive.

What an over-reaction! What's that about?

I think of several things:

I very much identify with my pots, care about them, judge them and myself though them. Failure is quite normal though. I make mistakes, pots for the "seconds", pots for the trash, regularly.  Until now I've only been disappointed. I think of artists who cannot bear to let their artistic children go to someone else. Not me, but the pots are me, somewhat.

There's pressure in an order, making something to meet someone else's idea and wish. I have been nervous over orders before, though fine with offering pots at sales for other people to consider and choose. Expectations make it hard. In this case, the buyer is perfectly comfortable with my trying again, taking however long it takes to succeed. Definitely this is pressure I invent for myself, not her doing.

It's worse that this particular glaze failed so thoroughly. I love it, think I have learned to handle its quirks. Ouch. It even feels like a betrayal by my friend. 

I felt quite a bit better once I saw options to offer my buyer, regained some control of the mess. So there's a control issue in it.

The buyer rescued me from all this, by seeing some good in them, by wanting to take 2 bowls anyway, by asking for another try, and not seeming shocked at all. Rescue, really? I think so. Thanks Cherie.

My reactions seem extreme, out of line with the small significance of the failure. I'm too invested in what I make, perhaps. On the other hand, who wants to live cool and objective and uncaring about what you do? It seems right to be passionately involved in what we are involved in. Even as we acknowledge that the work may not really have any importance, it matters to live thoroughly in our own lives. I just got a bit unbalanced here.