The World Turns To Ice

Sunday, 28 August 2011

The Zen of Pottery

Earlier in the summer I did a pottery summer school at Wobage Farm Workshops ( near my home. I am so lucky to have such a prestigious pottery on my doorstep. Last year I attended a weekly evening class on a Friday night and made it most weeks despite heavy snow and freezing temperatures. Inside the studio there was a wood burning stove, tea and cake and good company. I am still amazed that our tutor Josh (Redman) has taught me to throw a pot as it was something that I never thought that I would be able to do.  In the two hour session I was trying to make as many pots as possible as time was short but I wasn't really progressing beyond the occasional basic small pot and an awful lot of oddities.
  The difference that the three day summer school made was that I slowed down. I had plenty of time to watch demonstrations and to observe the throwing techniques of others.  I became aware that my own throwing was making an improvement and I had a 'Zen' moment. I realized that in order to make a good pot I had to get the foundations right and to do that I had to slow down and concentrate on each stage as I did it. My usual slap dash and hope for the best technique was what had been holding me back.
  What I am most surprised about is how this revelation has stayed with me and is changing how I approach everything that I do. I am carrying this idea forward into all my work and I am making a progressive leap. In the way that a building is only made strong and stable if it has firm and sure foundations my designs are only going to reach the standard that I expect of myself if I take the planning and construction stages seriously. All too often I have made a dive towards the end product whilst cutting as many corners as possible and then being disappointed with the results. At last I am putting all my years of design training into practice and working hard at each stage as I should.
  Yesterday I made a base for the textile 'pot' that I have been working on which can be seen on earlier posts.  I had no idea how I was going to do this successfully as it had an irregular base and it needed something that would make the cylinder into a round shape.  Instead of jumping straight in and making do with whatever result was achieved I thought it through, planned it properly and made paper templates before I constructed a card and textile base upon a frame of jewellery wire.  It worked first time and produced a strong base with no gaps which has also moved the vessel into the rounder shape that I wanted.
  So thank you to all my mentors at Wobage.  You have taught me much more than how to throw a pot and I can't wait for the new term to begin.

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