Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Meat's Back on the Menu, Boys!" (from the movie Lord of the Rings)

Well, so much for remaining anonymous on the web! This is me, at Christmas 2011 in San Diego. My eyes are a bit crossed, but the retina is fine. Apparently I healed properly, or else my brain has accustomed itself to a couple of extra blind spots from the laser job scarring. The expression is typical.

So, now it is October 2012, I am still playing tennis. I have decided to declare victory on the house remodel/restoration; thus I have more time to slide things into the schedule that got left out for the last two years. Like CLAY!

Since this blog is entitled "Clay in the Potter's Hands" I might as well throw in a picture of my latest foray into the great, plastic dirty stuff:

I have no idea yet what her name is. I will figure that out once she makes it through the bisque firing.

I just signed up for a course in sculpture at the Green Valley Clay Studio. The class got canceled due to the teacher breaking her hip, but free time to do one's own thing sculpturally is still being offered, and I took the offer up. This piece got photographed after I spent about six hours on it (see my other blog, "Barb's Pots" for more photos of this one). Just kinda came to life under me hands...

Anyway, the title of this post describes how I feel after starting up with clay again! Missed it. Nice to stick a chunk on a work surface and start modeling and scraping! 

But I find that there is a lot of social pressure at the studio to hop right in and volunteer--like, teach. I am not really ready for that. I always have a suggestion handy, if anyone asks me a technical question, and that's how I like to "teach." In small doses! 

"Could you teach me/my friend/child/ to make pots?" used to make me shudder. I guess I still shudder at the thought of having to deal with an inquiry like that about clay work. 

"Why?" you may ask, puzzled. I guess the quick answer is, I'm proud and selfish, don't want to give away trade secrets. But that's bogus. More like, I am overwhelmed since I envision taking on an apprentice for seven years and having to feed and clothe him. Or her. I guess I think of all the thousands of hours spent drawing as a child/youth/adult. All the years of trying to make something decent on the wheel. All the glaze failures, cracked pieces, the interminably slow learning curve! And then trying to transfer this experience to someone else. It is an impossible task!

But, if I would just realize that most people, when they ask me such a question, merely mean, "Can you entertain me/my/friend/child for an hour with a demo, or walk me through making one miserable piece of crap that I can fire and put on the mantlepiece?" Then, ah then, I would be able to smile without shuddering at the huge responsibility, and say "yes." Or "no." Depending on whether I liked them or not, or had time. Pompous people get the "no," earnest and sincere people the "yes." Maybe.

There seem to be a lot of people here that earnestly and sincerely want to have fun playing with clay, and whatever they make, they plan to give to a grandchild. There isn't a lot of pretension, even if there may be creation of what I think is kitsch. So--I am right in my first answer to your question "why?"--I am just proud and selfish. Hopefully, in time I will mellow and be able to take on the teaching requests and hop in there to make someone's awareness of art a little better, to tap into someone's talent and coax it out, to forget the apprenticeship thing and just move someone one step closer to the light.

Here's a great quote apparently from the tennis great Arthur Ashe:

"Start Where You Are. Use What You Have. Do What You Can."

It's very Zen. I want to keep that in mind.  It would help me be a better teacher. Heck, it would help me in everything--tennis, sculpture, cleaning the bathroom, whatever!

Anyway. I have gotten back to CLAY, and it has not forgotten me. Sculpture -- gotta look at it as 3-D line drawings. I don't have to make stuff like Da Vinci (though I'd LOVE to), or Gerhard Marcks. I'm Barbara Szabo, and my thing is capturing character, simply.

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