Saturday, July 21, 2007

more beautiful disasters

I’ve written before about the importance of letting go as a general philosophy. This philosophy is imperative if you are a ceramic artist, working with a material that breaks, cracks, explodes, sticks to the kiln shelf, and the hundreds if other things that can go wrong when you work with clay. I slaved over this butterfly piece, one of the handbuilt pieces I made during my break from the wheel. In the process I got very attached. I got so attached that after I finished it and dried it very slowly, nursing it like a little baby, I decided to take a picture of it before I put it in the Olsen kiln, our final firing as a group. I thought it needed a beautiful natural background so I picked it up to take it to the proper place. I still don’t know what happened, I think I was holding it in the middle and the wings were too heavy, and it fell apart in my hands. Everyone was so upset because they knew I spent a whole day making it and a half day beautifying it, and there was a tense moment as my studio mates watched to see what would happen next. I just shrugged and said, “I’ll make another, and it’ll be better, not so damn heavy”. Well, you know I didn't say "damn", but another word... Anyway, tension released. The work that has gotten destroyed around here could break anyone’s heart: two of Park’s effortless teapots shattered during a clumsy moment, Madhur’s sculpted ram lost his horns, Hwang’s life-size table developed a crack during drying, a collapsed composite vase, and a half dozen other things that went awry at some point. No one cries, no one complains. It’s clay, and you just make another.