Building really thin, fragile forms in clay is challenging but what if you’ve figured out how to do that with success, what’s next? You go big! That’s what!
But then, you fail. And really it shouldn’t be called a fail, because what is really happening is a learning experience without anything tangible to show for it in the end. It’s the art of trying. So I gave going big a try, here’s a few images of a basketball sized piece I attempted to make with the same building techniques I have been using on the smaller versions (see the smaller handheld sized one next to it for scale).
It sort of worked but there were some compromised spots that even if I tried to repair them, I’m pretty certain that they would of cracked in the firing process. So rather than waste the space in the kiln and the clay itself, I decided to toss the piece and recycle the clay for another attempt. A few of my studio mates were a little horrified to watch me do that, but the ability to let go is one of the most important lessons clay can teach you. Beyond knowing where the piece was failing, I also thought about how I could preempt those problems in future pieces and I think that I’ve figured it out. That’s not to say that they next one won’t fail too but hopefully I’ll be one step closer to a successful piece I can be proud of showing.
This piece was two full studio days to make and with nothing tangible to show in the end, it’s easy to look at it as a waste of time, but I think that is exactly what these residencies are for. There is time to experiment, time to try and time to fail. Feeling really grateful that I’ve got this time.