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Good day to you my friends

 

I am in Italy at the moment, giving free workshops for refugee children. A few Italian colleagues and I decided that we want to give the poor children a few days of "just playing around". You can't imagine how "adult" some of them already act, at the age of 6 to 12! What they had to go through.... unbelievable!

 

That made me think of how trouble free my life actually is. The problems with my mother-in-law or with my own Mum? The troubles with my hurting hands before the surgery? The trouble of what to cook today? Pah! Peanuts, compared to what those people and children have to go through.

 

This week's question was sent to me by another guest, this time by Vinkee Bhasin (Vinks). It fits perfectly:

 

Vinks wrote: This QOTW is about the artist's soul. Every artist has his or her own journey..How has your journey passed by now: was it full of excitement? Complete joy? Solace? .... or was it filled with experimentation and frustration and errors.

 

We are curious to hear your answers...

 

Evelyne and Vinks

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My own clay journey has been a very short one so far - only a matter of months. But in that brief period I've experienced no frustration because my skills are developing and failure is what I expect. So anything that comes out right is exciting and uplifting. Everything is an experiment - which is exciting. The magic of glazes changing from subtle variations on a theme of sludge to beautiful rich bottomless pools of glowing colour is infinitely inspiring. The results of my experiments are rewarding, even when they turn out not quite as I expected, and progress in any area brings a glow inside.

 

So I can honestly say that it has been an exciting journey so far; one that feeds my soul and fires my imagination. And one that I believe will take me far.

 

Girts

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My path has been wonderful, but full of frustrations. Not because I am not happy with what I make but because I want to make the things inside of my head. But I can't make them yet(mostly glazes), so I imagine I have many more years until I can create them. I do find joy in pottery. There is nothing better than sitting down at a wheel and creating pots that people will use to eat with and drink out of. It is amazing to look at pots and glazes after a firing. Every part of it is soothing and wonderful, but terribly frustrating at the same time! 

 

I feel like I just have to keep putting in the time and sooner or later I will be there, but I doubt I truly will ever be 100% satisfied with the things I make. 

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Most of my working life was spent in "out of town " places so the path has been long. I am trying to build up a 2nd career now with my pottery and its been good- I enjoy learning new techniques. I often wish I would have had a regular job that would have let me work on my pottery after hours and weekends but c'est la vie! Sometimes I experience that same thoughts that Joseph talks about.

If I think about it (& I've probably said this elsewhere) the path started pretty early. My neighbour when I was a small child was a landscape painter, muralist, sculptor & an elementary school principal. He didn't mind me watching him work. All of the schools that I attended were very art focused, until university when I headed into the sciences. So maybe the influences began very early and I feel very much at home in an environment with art.

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My journey has been unique: I like that word better than others that come to mind. I had never touched clay, or had formal training before I ordered my kilns and sundry supplies. I had seen a crystalline glazed piece in Williamsburg, VA.: and I was determined to figure it out. In the past seven years I have read more books than most college kids; and thousands of pages of technical jargon that would make a billy goat puke. Frustrating at times, rewarding at times, but always fascinated by the things I have learned. Not sure I am so much enamored by clay as I am the chemistry behind it. I have reached one conclusion however: some of the glaze chemistry is set in stone: other portions are not. Always amazed how much of Leach's. and Sanders thoughts and theories are still ingrained: even though the science and technology has blown way past their day. (ducks as the stones wiz by my head) I do have to say however: coming to this forum back in Dec. 2015: I am absolutely astounded by the talent and artistry I have seen in the galleries. Glaze/clay chemistry is very much like a giant gig saw puzzle: and I love solving puzzles. I do enjoy the solace and work alone: mostly because I enjoy solitude and want to figure this out in my own way. As much as I enjoyed NCECA in KC: I struggled being there. I am not use to so many people and buildings being that close to me.

Nerd (Tom)

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As  guest  co -moderator,I am curious to go thru my own clay journey thru your experiences.

 

Girts:An exciting  journey as you mentioned ….the enrichness you posses being positive is amazing….sure you will go a long way .

 

Joseph F:I feel frustrations lead to happiness. frustrations bring us little lessons to be learned,Its great you always come out of your comfort zone to rejoice at the end results.

 

Terrim:That’s life ....CÉST LA VIE...more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability to elevate by conscious endeavour.

 

Nerd:Your journey really seems remarkable unique.I learned this at least,by my experiment ,that if one advances confidently in the direction of his/her dreams and endeavor to live the life which he/she had imagined,he/she will fulfill his dreams.

 

 

Vinks

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My journey has been full of surprises. It was a surprise that I wanted to study ceramics as I had never thought about it until I happened to study it on a course with 10 other art subjects. A surprise that it was one of the few areas of work I enjoy spending time and effort in; and also when I found out there is much more to it than meets the eye.

 

It was a perfect fit for my creative technical urges and lets me float between the two, being creative in the science and technical in the art.

 

It has also been very rocky, in the literal and metaphorical sense  :P

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For most of my adult life, my clay journey has been crazy! I got paid to introduce hundreds of kids to ceramics. Through handbuilding with slabs, coils, pinch, extrusion and the potters wheel, I was able to have students explore functional potter, sculpture and decorative art. I had a studio with enough space for them to work, store their pots in progress, dry them for firing and for me to fire them in one of two kilns. I had equipment found mostly only in college studios or larger production studios: Slab roller, two Bailey extruders with multiple dies, two cone 10 kilns, 6 potters wheels, Walker pugmill, and a wedging table. We also had nearly every type of hand tool out there including hand extruders and griffin grips. I learned everyday from them, as they learned from me. We solved all sorts of design, and construction problems together and even created glazes together. We had fun in so many ways.  Life was so good! Now, after 36 years of teaching, I get to take time off, travel, enjoy bowling, kayaking, biking and other pursuits. Most of all, I get to spend time in my own studio making pots I like, taking jobs I want to do, and on occasion, going back in to schools to demonstrate, help with adult classes, and act as a resource for teachers in my area, and all over in the forums. . . . life is GOOD!

 

 

best,

Pres

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Well I would call it Mr. Toad's wild ride but its been great. Had a  break of 25 years while explored the business world (phooey on that). but now back on the right road and having a great time.  Looking forward to more clay.  rakuku

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After working for 35 years at Boeing Aircraft as an executive I finally retired and am spending now my time playing with clay.

I wish I started earlier as this stuff seems to take forever.It's so easy to blow stuff up in the kiln. Glazes run and pit and the whole cone numbers do not make sense cone 08 is cooler than 06 who knew?

I may just buy a glue gun and put stuff together like driftwood sculptures or wind chimes.Maybe an art show is in my future?

I made some pots in 5th grade and took a break and started again in my 60's.

My bridge group suggested clay at the local art center and I signed up-the rest is history.

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Great question!

The question reminds me of a series of work I did a number of years ago called Vessels and Journeys. The idea was that we are each a vessel on a journey, and that just as the journey puts marks on us, we make marks on others and leave indentations on the map. It was a fun series, researching the 'vessels' of those I count dear, and them telling me of their journeys- and the challenge of making these visual.

 

My journey has been one of ups and downs, but I have never lost the wonder and excitement of waiting for the next day to do more, the loading, firing, and opening of the next kiln. I started as an art teacher a hundred years ago ;) and then left education for the life of a potter for a number of years-- went back to grad school, became a school counselor, and now a therapist...and thru it all, I have done clay. My father always said I was part gypsy, and I have lived many places, set up studios in many places- some amazing, some not optimum, but I always had to have a space to do clay. I have fired my little updraft to cone 10 so many times I can almost 'drive' it...built a larger catenary arch downdraft that had to be left behind for some important reasons...and now am starting the kiln building adventure once more.  This time money is a bit more available than ever before, but space is at a premium. So I have to chose what I want...and soda has ALWAYS excited me- love the accidental nature of it, the flashing, the thrill, the warm earthy toasted surfaces... So I am researching, and looking for the best route to my next destination on this journey.

 

have a wonderful sunny day!

Pat

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I've talked about my clay history before but the short version is, it resumed three years ago after a forty year hiatus. My journey now is one where when I come to a fork in the road I take it. I am enjoying playing with and trying different clays - low, mid and high fire and experimenting with all the glazes that go along with each. I am having so much fun with my clay obsession where there is always something exciting and creative to accomplish every day, making whatever I want and enjoying the journey.

 

Evelyne, I commend you for what you are doing with those children.

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I first dabbled with clay in elementary school. I was a regular user in high school. For six years I was clean, got an engineering degree and even started graduate school when I got hooked again. There was only one choice.

 

Five years have passed and the future looks good.

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It hasn't been a long journey yet, but there has of course been frustration and failures and experiments. Without those though, there wouldn't be any excitement or joy, it would just be 'normal'. 

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I grew up in a family with lots of kids and little money. We learned to MAKE instead of buying from both my parents. 

 

I have worked in a photo lab, as a caregiver, a waitress and Special Ed aide; on the side I made period costumes and ran a photography sideline for a bit. I was always searching for a way to make fairly dull jobs creative or have a creative outlet somehow. 

 

Before adulthood I had played with ceramics to make exactly three items and did not especially enjoy it. I've dabbled in dozens of hobbies and pottery was not even on my radar as a possible option. 

 

When my son was two I started visiting my friend Christine in her studio and for the first time I was irresistibly drawn to clay. I didn't have the time or money to fully pursue ceramics so I started making and selling clay stamps so I could just keep my hands in clay in any way possible. Two summers ago someone gave me a free mid sized kiln when I purchased a mini one to use for my stamps and I just dove in headfirst. My son is six now and I work out in the studio every chance I get. If I'm having a stressful day the stress starts to melt away the minute my hands touch the clay. I feel like every job I had, every skill I built, all adds up to making ceramics work for me now. 

 

It's been very interesting to watch my style emerge quite differently from what I expected. And the exciting/terrifying part is that the work I'm making now bears no resemblance to the work I'll be making in ten years! 

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 And the exciting/terrifying part is that the work I'm making now bears no resemblance to the work I'll be making in ten years! 

 

This is my favorite part of ceramics. I hope that my work 10 years from now is absurdly better than my current work, if we are still posting on this forum, then I guess we will know if it came true or not. = )

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 And the exciting/terrifying part is that the work I'm making now bears no resemblance to the work I'll be making in ten years! 

 

This is my favorite part of ceramics. I hope that my work 10 years from now is absurdly better than my current work, if we are still posting on this forum, then I guess we will know if it came true or not. = )

 

 

Exactly!! :):) 

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I guess it depends on if we keep pushing ourselves or just get comfortable?

 

I know I haven't been satisfied with very many pieces that I have made. Out of the 300-400+ pots I have hammered, I probably have been happy with 3 maybe 4 pots. In my house I have 2 bowls that we use for table top, and 3 mugs that my son and wife drink out of. That is it, pretty crazy.

 

I haven't even made dinnerware for us yet. I just can't bring myself to imagine eating off work that I have moved past in the next year. Maybe if I find a white/grey glaze that I love I can make some dinnerware, but what you said about your work getting better makes me so hesitant to create a bunch of plates and bowls to eat out of that I would quickly want to get rid of after I improve again.

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I think because I came to clay later in life, it has really been a joy.  I really enjoy the process.  The further along I have traveled with clay, the more complex and rich it all becomes.  Learning about clay, firing, glazes, the traditions of potters, the history, form and function....I find it all quite rewarding.  Yes, I do get a little frustrated when my vision doesn't translate to the clay or glaze, but I learned at the beginning to simply settle in and let the learning happen.  This journey is a blessing, for certain. 

 

Roberta

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An error occurred

You have reached your quota of positive votes for the day

 

Wish i had more of positive votes for the day..Please,Please increase the positive votes,,cant wait for the next day  :blink:

 

 

Going through every day, life happens to everyone but we as individuals/artist here chose to be different. I felt every person/artist here had its own story/ journey with clay, even though accumulated with frustration, limitations,experimentation,we carry on with excitement and let keep this happening every day...
.
How we choose to respond to circumstances determines our love with clay.
If something gives us great joy, then the craving for that joy does n't allow resting peacefully, we keep going back,expanding our horizons
.
No matter what circumstances, situations, still we have crossed the bridge to attain HAPPINESS in our journey with clay.  
 
Whether we were able to succeed or not its irrelevant .what moves us ahead is the obsession we have with clay.Even not the bad results pull us down,We pick them as challenges so that we keep giving the best.
 
And to go little further:
" Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life".
 
― Pablo Picasso
 
Thank you to each one of you for sharing your journey .

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Thank you everybody for all your interesting answers, and thank you Vinks for co-moderating. You are perfect and I hope you have more questions for us!

 

My own journey was two-part. When I was starting my clay journey, approx. 15 years ago, I started in a studio where the (female) teacher showed us always only parts of what we should have learned. She was so jealous when one of us got ahead of her, that she tried to stamp on our fantasies and ambitions. She also was watering the glazes down to safe money... I wasn't a happy camper there but it was the only studio in my town. After 3 years of not learning I quit and went to schools in Italy and Spain, later in Germany, and I had really perfect teachers there. The rest is: flying on cloud nine....

 

PaulR: working with the refugee children was very hard for us teachers. They are mistrustful, sad, aggressive and most of them had knifes in their trousers. That is what their world is made of: fighting for everything, being the first to.... whatever. So sad!!!!

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I guess it depends on if we keep pushing ourselves or just get comfortable?

 

I know I haven't been satisfied with very many pieces that I have made. Out of the 300-400+ pots I have hammered, I probably have been happy with 3 maybe 4 pots. In my house I have 2 bowls that we use for table top, and 3 mugs that my son and wife drink out of. That is it, pretty crazy.

 

I haven't even made dinnerware for us yet. I just can't bring myself to imagine eating off work that I have moved past in the next year. Maybe if I find a white/grey glaze that I love I can make some dinnerware, but what you said about your work getting better makes me so hesitant to create a bunch of plates and bowls to eat out of that I would quickly want to get rid of after I improve again.

 

I'd argue that having a bunch of your pieces as your dinnerware would give you better insight into what you might change or improve. And if you do decide in a year that you can't stand those pieces any more, then you know how far you have come in that year. At then end of the day, if they are used for a year and then meet the hammer, you have lost some clay, some glaze, a firing or 2 and some time.

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