Saturday, May 8, 2010

Keeping it simple

I was sitting in my living room last night. I had had a few drinks. Sometimes you can get an epiphany when you're relaxed and not really thinking.

I stared over at my kitchen counter. On the counter were all the test tiles from my last batch of glaze tests. I had an epiphany. I am trying too hard with the glazes. No other potter I personally know spends half - and I mean literally half - as much time as I do screwing with glazes. I am being OCD about it.

I had spent some time prior to the gin and tonics mapping out how I was going to glaze a large serving bowl I have bisqued. How many pots have I ruined with complicated glazing? Many dozens. Maybe a few hundred. What was I doing? I was over complicating something that shouldn't be complicated. Less IS more. Keep it simple.

I threw out my glaze diagram for the bowl. I am going to hit it just straight kaki. Maybe a few touches of a highlight glaze. Nothing else. No strontium matte under glaze. No ash over glaze. Nothing complicated. Just a beautiful glaze on a simple pot.

I have several glazes that work in the new studio; a kaki, two carbon trap shinos, a black. I will work with those. I do want a celadon. I am going to try the studio celadon rather than make my own. I don't have to make every glaze myself.

In line with backing off the glaze obsession and concentrating on other things I changed gears in my throwing. I mentioned in a prior post that I am taking a class on set design. I made 20 mugs (down to 18 now) in order to get a set of 6 I really like. As I was finishing my 15th or so mug the class instructor walked by and commented that the shape was simple and I should try to push myself. It kind of pissed me off. Yeah, the shape is simple, my reason for taking the class wasn't to challenge myself with exotic shapes but to become consistent with simple shapes. But she is right.

I gave myself a new challenge. Create a set of canisters out of diverse and challenging shapes. So I started throwing large completely closed vases. My challenge is to make the divergent difficult shapes into a cohesive set. That's a challenge. So far I have 4 vases thrown. I plan on throwing 5 more. The 3:1 rule. I want a set of 3 containers; flour, sugar; brown sugar, for my kitchen counter.

My real challenge will be keeping the glazes on these containers simple ;)

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