Diary of a clay vessel

A big day. Even on a Sunday.
I had many wonderful activities. Gardening. Working on my website. Reviewing photos. Trimming trees. And – collecting high fired works at the Arts Center in St. Peter, that were completed and ready to pick up.
Oh…the anticipation.
Do you ever work on something for a long long time, and then hand it over for the final step? Knowing in your mind what it is supposed to look like, and crossing your fingers that it will indeed look like what you had envisioned – in the end?
I must admit as a potter, that outcome is not as common as one would hope.

Let me explain.
Pottery is unlike painting. I think.  As I am not a painterly person. I enjoy dabbling in painting on pottery, however that is few and far between in experiences.
I can not give a personal account to the processes one goes through when painting, writing, or singing/composing.
However – as a potter I will share my own personal experience of the many steps that a piece goes through – for me – before it is complete.
1. Throwing (ie: centering, coning, creating centered pilot hole, opening up the inside shape, and pulling walls up) the initial shape from a hunk of clay into a vessel on the potters wheel – hoping it will be a successful throw, and that it will succeed in emulating what one has in ones’ mind of what they are creating.
2. Trimming. A process of using tools to eliminate excess clay at the base – using the potters wheel and trim tools. A typical process that bombs if the vessel ends up too thin or too thick, or if the vessel lets go (ie: flying off the batt) while trimming due to wads of clay releasing the pot before completion.
3. Designing what will be carved into the vessel (Scale and design are elements that make or break the piece in this step.)
4. Carving (A slip of the hand can cause the vessel to be – a vessel with a hole – destroying the function of the piece)
5. Cleaning up the design, making it look professional – yet artistic and hand-crafted – with a professional touch.
6. Carving corrections (Carved corrections tend to stand out because the dryness factor is not matching the rest of the vessel when the carving took place.)
7. Letting the piece dry completely (hoping the piece does not crack during this drying phase – in places that compromise the function and integrity of the piece)
8. Handling the piece (sweaty, dirty, or oily hands cause fingerprints – creating undesirable areas where glaze or stain does not adhere – which unfortunately does not show up until after the piece is completely fired.)
9. Placing piece into kiln. (pieces are solely dried clay at this point and any bump or mis-handling can cause the piece to break.)
10. Bisque firing (susceptible to cracking – or blow outs due to air bubbles or compromised base construction, lack of complete dryness, or too cold – at this stage as well)
11. Handling the piece after bisque firing may also cause undesirable effects to the finished product – unknown to you until final step is completed.
12. Glazing the piece, or staining it to add interest to the vessel
13. High firing the piece (Hoping it does not crack – and hoping the glazing/staining outcome is desirable)
14. Realizing that the glazing and/or staining process will either make
or break the final outcome, glazes can under fire or over fire easily
and cause undesirable bubbling, crazing, or flat finishes- or fantastic unexpected outcomes
15. Complete
16. Taking photos of the piece. (Hoping to translate what has been created into representational and beautiful photo(s).)
17. Pricing. Hoping the efforts that have taken place to create this unique piece are truly – understood.
I love the arts. I value every single step that creations go through to get to the complete step.
May your art form be blessed with success. Meaning – may it be a piece (whatever art form you express) that is truly what you envisioned.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.