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How Clay Has Shaped You?

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  • 9 months later...

How has clay shaped me?  My first experience was a summer class at a local ceramics studio.  My first project was to make Beaker from the Muppet Show.  I still have it.  Big lesson there was that muppets don't look great in cone 10 reduction.  LOL

I went back to clay again my first year in college and was hooked.  I had to experience all of it.  I struggled for a while to find MY clay and MY ceramics.  Went to Davis, learned sculpture, got chewed up in critiques by peers who thought it helpful to tear each other apart, taught at the Craft Center for some time, then wound up back at that same studio where I started for a time.  My challenge at that studio was the folks who thought that art/ceramics need always be pretty when I was tackling some heavy subjects like how women's bodies are manipulated in our society.   About that time, I heard of a guy whose potter brother had committed suicide and needed to clear the studio.  I helped him with that---wheel, rotten kiln, wedging table, LARGE quantities of the more expensive glaze chemicals that he 'did not want to deal with because toxic'.    The wheel was a CXC and has more than enough for what I am doing now. 

Years later, I am back to the studio where I learned to throw and throwing again.  It's a supportive environment which helps, and there is more art and exploration there now than I remember.   In going back, I got back in touch with being grounded.  Clay grounds me profoundly as I am not someone who stays in my body very well.  The clay pulls me in and holds me in a way nothing else does.  

Looking back, I always needed to get to the point where I was throwing my sculpture.   I have finally gotten the skill to be able to do so.   It's not been easy.    But now looking back, every single thing that I have done along the way is in my work, drawing, motifs, etc, coming together in a synthesis of all those parts.  The figures that I have sketched all my life are right there.   Somehow, I seem to have fallen into the place where I have always been.  

One thing I have also learned is how to cast things into the fire.   With ceramics, one does the best one can to make the piece well, and then put into the fire, pray to the kiln gods and wait.   Turns out to be a good philosophy of life.    I tell the students to cast it into the fire, and sometimes it takes a bit for them to understand. 

Sooo, if I follow my pattern, I guess I'll be going back to Davis.....I went back to the first studio, then the second studio......Davis is next(although I had pieces in CCACA last year, and then again this year, so maybe that's it?).....but I am also very close to building my own studio.  

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