Back in the Studio

November 12, 2009
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I have been back in the studio making work again after too long of a hiatus. Two very crucial and important deadlines are looming in front of me. I don’t work well under stress, but of late, I am pleased with the direction my design process is taking, as difficult as it may be.

I usually start the process with an involved series of glaze tests. After moving to my new location, I made a conscious decision to defer making work for my gas kiln. In fact, my gas kiln still does not have its stack installed. Rather, I have been exploring surfaces in my electric kiln at cone 6-7. I am a good technician and understand how things work in that environment. My testing procedure consists of taking a singular glaze that has certain amounts of specific materials that provide the possibility of rich glaze surface development. I then use a sequence of both commercial stains and earth oxides in various combinations. I save all my 100 gram glaze tests and then have a “Slop Glaze” for that specific date. My firing cycle is also very specific and incorporates a cooling cycle.

After several days of testing and firing, I am quite happy with the results. I made some of the glazes into small batches and then glazed a full load. The results exceeded my expectations. I guess I am lucky, or maybe I just know some things!

I am, though, in kind of a rut. I have plenty of ideas. These ideas come from past forms, things I see around me, other artists’ works, and a myriad of other influences. But what to make? It’s easy to go back and make things that are familiar. My hands know how easy it is to make them. But my brain thinks otherwise. It wants to be challenged, it wants me to stretch with new ideas, new work, new forms. And it is difficult. There is so much to move through the funnel to get some core ideas that are challenging. In fact, they are so challenging for me that they are outside of my comfort zone, and that is precisely what makes them interesting.

I have a few weeks of hard work in front of me. While I am confident in my abilities, I also understand that “you don’t have to look for problems in ceramics…they will find you.” I am hoping such a search will not be necessary! I’ll be hard to find.

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