Monday, May 25, 2015

beautiful mistakes

I was working on one of my new pieces a couple of weeks ago. It was a large platter-type thing. Wide and flat with 90 degree sides that were just over an inch high. I sketched in a lotus and lily pad motif on both sides over layers of green and blue underglaze, and I liked how it looked. I put well over an hour into the piece when I totally cracked off one side. I got carried away with the detail work and did not realize that I had all the weight of the piece leaning on one edge.

Whenever I fuck something up, my reaction is always the same. First I yell in complete dismay, "Ooooooh NO!" Followed by a series of swear words. Depending on the severity of the fuck up, I contemplate crying and I often put out a couple of experimental sobs to see if it's going to take. Usually is doesn't, because my method for dealing with pottery fuck-ups, honed over almost 20 years of dealing with them, is to immediately throw them in the trash and move on. I can't get stuck on pieces getting broken, it's just part of the process and there's no point in ruminating on it. I'm kind of harsh that way.

But this piece was so nice. I really liked how it was shaping up. Yeah, I could make another, but there is nothing like the magic of the first. And then I just decided to repair the broken pieces, stick them back in their broken spot and secure it with slip, and not even try to hide the fact that it had been cracked, but emphasize it with some black glaze and really show it off. I felt like I was on to something.

Then, last night I was watching the first in a series on Netflix called "Chef's Table", a set of documentaries about some of the top chefs in the world. The Italian chef Massimo Bottura was talking about how one of his chefs dropped a lemon tart, breaking apart the crust and splatting the filling. Rather than freaking out, he was inspired by the idea of this, of presenting the lemon tart broken on the plate to the customer, because he thought it was beautiful, not destroyed. He says that to make mistakes is human, and therefore mistakes can be beautiful. The art comes from being able to see that, and then making the invisible visible for others to appreciate. His broken lemon tart is now a signature dish on his restaurant menu, and it is called, "Oops! I dropped the lemon tart!" Who would have ever thought to do something so whimsical with food presentation?

I just loved this whole concept of the broken lemon tart, and how the drive toward achieving perfection just misses the point of creating something beautiful. And now, my personal homage to the broken lemon tart dessert:


Oops! I cracked the edge of the platter!

13 comments:

  1. ok I don't even see the cracked part, but it was definitely worth saving

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you look at the middle image, it's on the rim at the top.

      Delete
    2. that's a great patch job

      Delete
  2. I am still working on the incorporation of, or drawing attention to cracks.... I have a temp solution. Nice job.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bravo. I love your honesty. Shit happens, but it's still beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love it. :) That was my favorite episode of Chef's Table. He is an abstract artist ... with FOOD.

    My first love was sewing and that is what taught me one of the most valuable things I know about creating: Sometimes a mistake or shortage of materials due to poor planning ends up taking an item from ordinary to extraordinary. "Perfect" often has no personality.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I had to laugh...I have the same reaction: scream, swear, and toss as soon as possible to minimize the pain. I will have to give the test sobs a try. Please listen to this David Wilcox song....it describes what you just posted exactly. http://youtu.be/S7mkdHQX-NE

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the link Susan!

      Delete
  6. I adore what you did here - and I think I saw that lemon tart show. I think you'd also like Kintsugi - I think it's a beautiful metaphor for of the beauty of the brokenness in people. -- Mira

    ReplyDelete
  7. Didn't the Japanese have a way of repairing pots with gold leaf honouring the thing of beauty which had broken. There is a word for it but I can't remember. The potter who embraced this concept was Petrus Spronk and his pieces from the early 80's influenced me as an Art student. I had pieces I called "Spronk inspired". http://petrusspronk.blogspot.com.au/ Having found his blog I am excited to think he is still potting, all these years on! As am I!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See the above comment, it's called Kintsugi, and indeed I have a piece right now that cracked in half that I'm hoping to try a version of this technique on! Thanks for the link to Petrus, looks like my kind of guy.

      Delete
  8. Whitney, I am trying to sign up for your newsletter but don't receive the email to confirm. Help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sheri, I don't know why you didn't get your confirmation but I manually confirmed you-- you should get my next newsletter in about a month. And thank you for signing up!

      Delete