Friday, October 20, 2006

good days, bad days

There are good days in the studio, and there are bad days in the studio. A lot of people think that because I get to play with clay all day, every day must be a good day, and that is generally true. There are even some days that are amazing. Today was an amazing day, and it was doubly amazing because I was rebounding from a very bad yesterday.

The bad yesterday started out normally: a big dose of coffee and an early start in the studio to finish glazing a big round of orders. The studio was toasty warm because of a firing the day before. When the kiln was cool enough to start cracking, I peeked in as I always do. I'm usually so excited to see what comes out of the kiln, but today my heart started thumping hard and I felt sick to my stomache. On the top shelf I had 5 of my cake stands with the little sculpted birds perched on them. From what I could see the little birds were... missing. They had fallen off during the firing. Insert your choice of expletives here as I paced around my studio, taking this in. The kiln was full of these cake stands, and I had made them all at the same time, probably making the same mistake in attaching the birds over and over. It was a fair assumption that all of them had fallen off. And these were for orders that were already a few days behind!

The rest of the afternoon was spent stressing out, calling accounts to let them know their orders would be late, and stressing out some more. I finally left the studio around 7, dreading the next day; I would have to ditch my plans to make new work in preparation for a show and re-make all the cake stands. When I woke up this morning though, I felt fine. I knew I had a full day of work ahead of me and probably no time to go to the gym or enjoy the beautiful sunny day outside, but I still felt good. I went to the studio and threw all day long, 75 pounds of clay total. The clay was at the ideal firmness that I like to work with, the texture perfect. The clay and I were one: all I had to do was think about what I wanted it to do and it did it. I amazed myself by throwing all the cake plates in under an hour, they just flew off my fingers. I didn't want to stop-- I threw cake stands, lidded vessels, vases, bowls. Finally, around 4:30, the clay started wobbling. The magic was over. I've learned that when the magic is over, don't push it. I turned off the wheel and went for a walk, thanking the clay gods-- or whoever it was-- for an amazing day in the studio.