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QotW: Have you ever been forced to go to the darks side?

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QotW: Have you ever been forced to go to the darks side? Yeah, did I get your attention? My question of the week is more about being forced to move into less familiar territory for a project using techniques of materials that you are not as familiar with. A little analogy here. . . years ago in my grad years, I took a course in experimental drawing. . .? The course entailed design principles, grounds, and media, not in the common realm of working for most artists. It force those in the class to reassess their skills and work with a shift in their concepts of what art was. I did several pieces that turned out surprisingly well, even though I struggled through the unmapped territory of producing them.

Of late, I have been working with wooden forms, and slabs to create some butter dishes. I am predominantly a thrower, but like to combine slabs and thrown components into larger sculptural forms. However, the butter dish thing has made me work with a technique I have never tried before, and so it is kind of dark territory. I will be going back to the drawing board, as much of the pieces I recently glaze fired DO NOT FIT! Loss of time and effort, but not to be overcome, I will be adapting some new ideas to make this work.

So I will present the question again,   QotW: Have you ever been forced to go to the darks side?

best,

Pres

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There was definitely a lot of that in College.  A lot of new media and techniques, that were different and in some cases those things were vastly different depending on which of the instructors you had, even if they were the same class.  For instance, I had the same instructor for both my Painting classes, and his classes didn't not operate as the other painting classes did.  We had to do twelve paintings a week.  That may seem insane, but it should be noted, that he never said what size the paintings had to be.  So most of the class would do several smaller, experimental paintings, and continue to work on a larger one each week.  Some of my classmates hated that approach, I liked it.  It allowed us to experiment and refine our skills multiple times over. 

Currently my strolls into unfamiliar territory are when I try a new lesson.  I would say the stakes are higher, because if I try something new and run into unforeseen issues, I can shrug it off or adapt.  If an entire class runs into unforeseen issues, that's way more of a problem. 

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First ever commission, spec was for black clay, hence one bag o' Cassius.

It's so smooth and plastic, a joy to work with ...and, one can more easily see everywhere that clay can (and will) go...

From there, similar road as very red clay, longer and targeted bisques, clearing bubbles, dodging bloat...

Lately, am venturing into the joy and heartache of the teapot; good to be trying something new/challenging, eh?

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I started off firing cone 10 reduction with porcelaineous stoneware, and well....

I wasn’t going to be able to get at my usual cone ten gas rental for the summer while they rebuilt the kiln shed, so I thought I’d play around with some cone 6 clay because the electrics were still available, and I picked up some red clay and some underglazes for a change of pace. That was almost 5 years ago, and I never did go back to the gas kiln. 

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I loved my college years with gas kilns, the large kilns at PSU were great for the large pieces I made, and the glazing was easy with a large combination of dipping, pouring or splattering glazes with some brush work. However, how was a poor art teacher to have a gas kiln living in the middle of town? Thus 10 years after graduation I started a small pottery with ^6 electric. Easy transition as I was already teaching ^6 at the HS. I will say that the glazing at the college was easier to get moderate results. However, to even get moderate results at ^6 takes much more awareness of glaze interaction and application. Things I never did in college, like spraying or atomizing, dipping thin over thick,  use of multiple transparencies or other things seem to be the only way to get what I want out of glazing. However, with the movement toward more texture in the making process while throwing, I yearn for the ^10 glaze process to some degree or even wood firing. 

best,

Pres

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Low fire handbuilding in school was the dar side for me.At that time i had many years of high fire and kiln building under my belt and low fire was just of zero interest until I realized I nned to know as much about clay in all temps and bodies (my clay and glaze class opened my eyes on this).  My low fire work was far from stellar but I did learn how and why.Its all good knowledge in the long run and at that time little did I know it would be my entire life.

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Like Callie, my big dark shift was switching to cone 6 oxidation. I learned how to fire a gas kiln my first semester of ceramics in 1992, and spent the next 16 years of my ceramics life working at cone 10- gas, salt, and wood firing. In 2008 I switched to cone 6 electric, at first by choice as something different to try, but soon after by necessity as I had to move my shop and couldn't find a place where I could have my gas kiln.

I rarely get very far out of my comfort zone any more. If I do it's by choice, trying to work out an idea I have rolling around in my brain. I don't ever go out of my comfort zone for a customer, though, because it won't pay off. I've gotten very good at saying no to people over the last 16 years of running my business.

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If anything I am still emerging from the deep dark side of way too many of my years, and am willfully traversing a lighter existence  for, lets say, about the last 20+ years (I'm a slow traveler & take every side road that comes along.)  Now in this last quarter of my projected life span ( I want to still be kickin' at 100-then-poof, bye bye.) I refuse to let anything/anyone push, pull, bribe, or seduce me back to "the dark side".

In terms of clay, at this point in time, this means that I must-must-must-stop looking at making something as simple and innocuous as herb markers as the work of the devil! When I read the title for this topic, my first thought was...Yep, I'm being forced to the dark side right now, "having" to make pretty things for a tourist boutique in order to pay for my dope (my clay)."

I had to give myself a royal talking-to when I heard that in my head.  I choose to let the light in: to acknowledge; own; be prideful; be humble; be receptive; be resilient; stubborn in moving forward; be grateful; be deliberate, and; stop thinking  so much....just go finish glazing that last batch--now. 

Edited by LeeU

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Saying no takes some time to get around  to. I wish I said no for about 30 years of special orders. Of course those customers got hooked and kept returning but really they are not worth it.

About 10 years ago I started saying no and its been all upside.

 

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