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Qotw: What Do You Do When You Temporarily Absolutely Cannot Do Clay Work?"

Question of the week; accidents happen;

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#1 Evelyne Schoenmann

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 08:20 AM

Hello and good morning, afternoon, evening my friends: I am back!


As I already said in my other post: thank you all so very much for all your care! I feel so blessed to have you all as friends. I feel better, although I have to slowly slowly walk with a heavy but fancy shoe on my foot and with crutches. But I am getting there!


Lee had a wonderful idea for a question and I thank you Lee for mentioning my biggest problem at the moment: not being able doing anything with clay because I can't, for the life of me, go to my basement studio.


I read a lot! I just read Richard Sennett's book "The Craftsman". And I've read, for the 3rd time already, Edmund de Waal's book "The white road". Reading and yes, scetching, is what I am doing in times I can't work in clay. But the question is: what would YOU do if you cannot (absolutely not!) work in clay for a certain time?


Thank you and have a good week!



Evelyne Schoenmann
Studio: schoenmann ceramics

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#2 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 10:37 AM

So happy you are back with us , Evelyne. Hope you are feeling better.
When I can't work in clay, I read and sketch. Have you read "The Arcane"? about the development of Meissen Porcelain.
I am still unpacking and working on my studio and my only drawing pencil I can find is 3" long. I love the solid graphite pencils. I know there are more around in these unpacked containers.Today I hope to get some shelves up and find a solution to my floor plan. Trying to work out functional layout with regards to wall heaters, traffic flow, clay storage etc.
Glad you're back.
Marcia Selsor, Professor Emerita,Montana State University-Billings

#3 JohnnyK



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Posted 25 January 2017 - 10:50 AM

Well wishes for your recovery, Evelyne!

While I was in the remodeling business for more than 30 years and very deeply into photography for more than 50 years, all I read were books and magazines about construction and photography. After my first shoulder surgery, not being able to work for awhile, I took up reading novels, mostly action thrillers. That was about six years ago. Since then I've read a book about every 2 weeks on average. Sometimes you need to take a break from what you are involved with on a daily basis and go in a different direction to relax your mind while you are forced to relax your body... :) 


#4 What?


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Posted 25 January 2017 - 10:55 AM

Watch videos, view images, draw. Revisit with pottery made and purchased in our home. Go to the museum. Eat lots of food!!! Binge watch television. Right now my wife and I are enjoying a program called Sex in the city. So hilarious it has to be like 15 years old. Take your time to heal. Glad your back.

#5 terrim8


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Posted 25 January 2017 - 11:52 AM

Sounds like a theme- research & sketches. Get out of your clay comfort zone & research something totally new. Get better soon! I would need a serious research project to tame the frustration of not being "hands-on". Maybe taking some other field of endeavour and melding into the ceramic process?

#6 Denice


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Posted 25 January 2017 - 12:28 PM

I have been stockpiling gourds,  I have MS and never know when I might wake up with a new disability.   I grow a couple of gourd plants in my garden every year, of course I could always buy them off the internet.  Gourds are lightweight and shapely,  they can be cut, painted, stained.  I recently bought a small round gourd box at an estate sale, it was from a gallery in New York City.  It had a zigzag cut for the lid and a Christmas scene of the wise men, manger  winding around the outside of the box painted in stain.   Denice

#7 oldlady


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Posted 25 January 2017 - 02:24 PM

so glad to hear from you!  


ask someone to go to your studio and bring back some clay and a work surface that you can put on your lap.  get a wide cloth and sit comfortably in a chair, put the work surface flat on your lap and use the clay to make tiny things you normally never would do.  beads, tiny animal sculptures, more beads, anything far from what you usually do.  NO TRIANGLES!  because that is what you normally do.

"putting you down does not raise me up."

#8 rakukuku


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Posted 25 January 2017 - 02:52 PM

Yep, I was about to day have someone bring up a little clay and sit and make pinch pots. They are fun. Thats what I did when I had a hand injury and could only use some fingers. That and painted bisqued things with a brush. 

#9 Pres


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Posted 25 January 2017 - 03:00 PM

While I was recovering from thumb surgery, I read more Ceramics books, read more on the forums and other sites, and did a lot of complaining about not getting into the shop. My wife though I think complained more than I! ;)


In the long run, when I have not been able to work in the shop, I usually fill my days with other activities, often those are involved with what ever is leaving me out of the shop. This Summer I was working on the renovations of a family rental that needed some upgrading. After breaking an ankle years back, and a few years ago with a herniated disc, I had lots of therapy to attend. As to inactive time I do read a lot, usually have a book open every day for several times of the day and the usual Ceramics Monthly, Pottery Making, Clay Times and others that come along.





Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . . http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/

#10 Diesel Clay

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 03:13 PM

So glad you're back Evelyne!
When I bruised some ribs back in November, my husband Wayne was eager to keep me from loosing my mind. He graciously brought me up a few handfuls of clay, some tools and a sponge from my studio and I made little birdhouse Christmas ornaments. Then I made some birds to go with them using a craft foam drop mould. I also watched a lot of Netflix, because I was rather stoned on the painkillers they gave me. Truthfully, I found it frustrating, because it wasn't close enough to what I wanted to be doing.

When I took a couple of years' hiatus from working in clay, I did a lot of knitting. Anything on 4 needles, or things like lace, so that I could have the sense of planning ahead, structrual analysis and problem solving. Socks and hats and mitts and bags are all a little vessel-like, especially if you work in the round.

#11 LeeU


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Posted 25 January 2017 - 08:13 PM

Ya know, if people can make art with just their toes, or while lying in bed using a stick to reach the ceiling (Mattise's cut outs) or make beads on a lap desk rather than a 30 foot sculpture, maybe no one actually "can't" do clay work.


Of course, if I were unable to do what I do, I would be all about bad moods, self pity, frustration, anger, a blank mind, potato chips and Netflix (opps, that just slipped out). 

Lee Ustinich






#12 glazenerd


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Posted 25 January 2017 - 08:35 PM

Glad you are back with us and on the mend!


I spend a lot of time building my data bases on clay and glaze. I break down glaze formulas into the various molarity/weights; and the same for clay. Always analyzing, looking for common threads; noting those that potters have problems with: looking at median values. Usual Nerd stuff.



#13 Magnolia Mud Research

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 08:41 PM

My current not clay diversional activity is comparing various Thermal Physics textbooks from 1938 till now.

Previously it was Igneous petrology texts.



#14 Pugaboo


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Posted 25 January 2017 - 09:15 PM

So glad you are back and good to know you are healing up... don't push it take the time to heal fully.

When I can't do clay. I read A LOT. As a child books and art supplies were always the best presents and guess what they are still today! I read just about all the different types of things to read and have been known in a pinch to read the backs of cereal boxes.

If I'm not reading, I sketch, paint, make jewelry, play with my Pugs, and build puzzles. A few months ago my husband said I needed a hobby and I got to thinking if I were to do something and it had to be guaranteed not to become a business (just can't help myself seems like such a waste to do stuff and not earn a living doing it) I would enjoy building puzzles any and all kinds of puzzles. My brain loves to stew, figure, plan, organize and put things together (even when I don't want it to) so doing puzzles are something that relax me and I enjoy immensely. The hardest part about puzzles is keeping little Pugs from stealing pieces when I am not looking.

The world is but a canvas to the imagination - Henry David Thoreau

#15 Kellykopp


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Posted 26 January 2017 - 01:14 AM

Great to see that you are on the mend !! It all depends which part of the body was keeping me "down" or away from the studio. I would tend to read and research, watch informational videos, and if I still had use of my hands I would sketch and jot down ideas.

#16 Mark C.

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Posted 26 January 2017 - 02:11 AM

After my PRC wrist surgery and could not work in clay for 5 months I joined this site at that time and read books after my month on pain killers was over.

The rest is old history

Good luck on the recovery

Mark Cortright

#17 RonSa


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Posted 26 January 2017 - 08:27 AM

It depends if I could get around or not.


I read a lot on varied subjects. I also play the guitar (coming on 53 years now) and do watercolors.


If I could get around I would still be in the kitchen cooking or baking bread. If the season is right I'd be in the garden. My wood shop is in my basement too.


Funny thing, when I first told friends that I was retiring I was told I would be bored out of my mind within a month. Its almost a year now and I'm busier now than when I was working.


#18 Roberta12


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Posted 26 January 2017 - 12:33 PM

Evelyne!  So glad you are back!  I hope your recovery is a smooth one!  After I had shoulder surgery, I read a lot.  and did some work on the computer.  One handed.  But since you have the use of your hands, you could make stamps for clay, read, sketch, make beads, invite friends over for tea.....keep posting on CAD forum!



#19 GiselleNo5


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Posted 26 January 2017 - 02:15 PM

Welcome back, Evelyne!! 


I just came back from an enforced two months off clay. Sick, bursitis in my stinkin' knee, then vacation, then sick again, more bursitis, then bronchitis. It was cold in my uninsulated studio so the air would make me cough and wheeze. This happened a couple months after I moved all clay tools and other supplies out of my old living room work station where I used to make little stuff so I couldn't even do that without transporting everything back in. 


A couple years ago I sliced my pinky open washing a mug that broke in my hand. Four stitches and my hand couldn't be in any water for two weeks; then for two weeks after that only clean water. 


When I'm sick obviously I spend a lot of time in bed. But I always make pot after enormous gallon pot of various kinds of soup from scratch. I make chicken noodle, spicy tortilla soup, hot and sour soup with tiny rice noodles. I always add huge amounts of veggies. My son and I put sriracha in it and eat it as we wipe our streaming eyes. It's our game that I tell him about all the germs he's killing by eating that spicy hot soup! :)


Otherwise when I'm away from clay for a time, I finish a book about every 2nd or 3rd day, I sew, I sketch designs, I think through roadblocks I've been experiencing with my work, I watch tons of pottery videos and read anything clay related I can get my hands on. 


I read all the CAD articles and any clay blog I can find, and months later I will be experiencing a problem and the answer will float up to me from my subconscious mind. I even read articles on techniques I don't think I'll ever use. That's how I got into using wax resist mishima, which I now use on over 50% of my work. I was trying all these different techniques to get a crisp clean line for the grass on my wildflower pots and after the third or fourth attempt my brain suggested wax over leather hard and then I remembered reading it in a Big Ceramic Store article months or even years before. I had forgotten but it was still squirreled away. 

I create order from chaos. And also, chaos from order.




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