Thursday, May 24, 2007

Step by Step

One of my students said to me a while back, "You're very methodical aren't you?" I think I was demonstrating how to cut feet on bowls and I was going through the do this, then this, then cut in here, then here, and look at that, and that's it. Hum. Maybe I am. I didn't take it as a compliment at first, I don't know that it was meant as one, just his observation. But I have thought about it off and on and yes I am methodical in some aspects of making pots. I do things over and over a certain way because they work and produce the results I am after. I guess I was a little irritated because I feel like I should be 'spontaneous' and that I should respond to what's happening in the moment, at all times. Making pots yesterday I noticed how both of these parts come into play when making work, the responsive/in the moment part and the methodical/step by step part.
When throwing I have steps I follow... center, open, pull up etc. As I do this I have a shape in mind that I am working towards, but I try to pay attention and not force this too much. I like to have more of a sketch than a masterpiece when finished. The gesture of the throwing is important and I try to just let that happen. Not over working the pot is important here. When I do my finial ribbing (two times) is usually when I see the pot come alive. Sometimes a new shape will catch my eye and I'll take it and set it aside for later as I carry on with the rest of the run.
I noticed that I am not so responsive when cutting feet. I tend to do this more like a machine, with a certain outcome in mind. I do have a bit of carefree attitude when I go about it, I like those tool marks and broad strokes of removing clay.
I make handles a certain way. Roll this out, flatten, pat, squeeze, score, slip, stick, push, push, push, pinch, pull, curve, cut, smooch, smear. Done.
So as I think about all this I see that I am both methodical and responsive, I do things over and over in a certain way but with my eyes open and feeling my way along. Technique is nothing in itself, there has to be some feeling and sideways looking along the way. I have areas that lean more toward one side than the other.
So this is good stuff for me to think about. Check in later and I'll have some pics of pots I make today.