As a ceramic artist, I do not throw the usual bowls and vaseson the wheel. I prefer handbuilding. Handbuilding is like playing with tinker toys or an erector set. It’s taking a lump of clay, attaching it to other bits of clay, and using the trimming tools to carve into the clay to perfect the shape. It’s the whole construction process; piece by piece.
When the average person thinks of pottery, they might think of the potter at the wheel, magically laying their hands on the spinning clay and in a couple minutes, there’s a bowl or cup or a vase.
There are other ways of working clay. There’s rolling out a slab; the ball of clay pinched into a bowl or pot like the ancients did it; and there’s the ropes of clay, also known as coils, that are
wrapped into the shape of a bowl or pot. I use all the handbuilding techniques together to make the teapot or sculpture I’ve dreamed up that day.
I want to know what I can do with clay. What can the clay let me do with it. What can’t I do and why won’t it work. Clay is a mystery to me. There are physics to clay that I need to explore. I
know that I can’t expect wet clay to hold some shapes until it has dried out a little and I know that if it dries out too much, the clay can crumble into a pile of dirt and be totally useless. I also need to know what I can’t do and why I can’t do that. I strive to push myself to see what my limits are and then to work on going beyond.
I don’t know how my work is in comparison to that in the gallery world. When I do go to galleries to look at other ceramic work, I have wondered if I am good enough to be in a gallery as well and if I can recreate what I am seeing in the galleries.
I want my art to be seen as something interesting and thought provoking. I’m not sure if I want other people to understand my work. If they understand it, then they will stop looking at it. If
they don’t understand it, would they continue to look at it in hopes of finding the answer to the question my artwork creates?