On a previous blog, I ran down the steps to take a ball of clay to a finished piece of pottery. I also mentioned the fun creative side of this precess, but didn’t expand on it. When I think of creating new pieces, I draw from nature, other art, things I’ve seen in magazines or online, to name a few. I know there’s a difference in creating while looking at an object and in creating after studying the object and not looking at it again. I make pottery both ways, depending on if I’m making set of mugs and want them to be similar or if I’m trying a new technique or working through a new idea.
About 8 years ago, I took a class to learn how to make tiles and build images on them. I have that lighthouse tile hanging in my studio today. Most of the time, I have an idea of what image I’m going to build, but other times, I start trimming pieces of clay and see something else, so the image shifts. I have heard people talk about painting intuitively and I suppose this is the clay version of that! Slow down, listen to the clay.
Recently, I tried a technique I’d seen online where you cut poster board into a template for a cup, by cutting the sides of a newly formed, soft clay cup into fourths and dropping the sides so it is a flat shape. Then you cut a slab of clay using the template and bring the sides together to form a cup. This template allows you to repeat this process to make a lot of uniform cups. Well, I didn’t exactly follow the directions, but was winging it. I didn’t deconstruct a cup to get the exact template, I just cut something close to the shape I had seen. Then I rolled a slab that was a bit too thin, but I continued on to see the size of cup I would get. Along the way, I lost myself in the clay, trying to get some sort of a cup and I kept building texture by adding little bits of clay to cover thin areas. I decided it needed feet and then more bits added to the outside. In the end, I had a one of a kind piece that could be used as a cup or not, but I loved it!
Being creative with clay is about getting your hands dirty and losing yourself in the creative process, whether your making your 100th mug or trying something new. It’s about sitting for hours, losing track of time. I don’t miss many meals, but when I’m working in my studio, I may work straight through lunch or late into the night without realizing it. This creative process is relaxing and exhilarating all at once. It’s one of the many things I love about working with clay.