We've had a longer holiday season than most. Ours began with the celebration of Kenny's 50th birthday the week before Thanksgiving. Then there came Thanksgiving and then Christmas and finally my 74th birthday celebrated last Monday with a visit from my sister Catherine and her husband Wayne who live in Maine. Tomorrow Catherine returns home to Kennebunkport and I plan to be in the studio for the first time since these holidays began so long ago!
I have not touched clay in so long it will be like starting all over. And I am really not sure where or how to begin again. I've spent a lot of time before this break working with earthenware clay but I think I am about to return to my BlackJack clay which I fire to ^6. It is sold as a ^6 to ^10 clay--which I know does not exist! I have considered firing it a little higher--it is not vitrified at ^6 and vases do weep if left standing with water for a length of time. But to change the firing temperature will also require adjusting the glazes I've used--or be willing to accept the change the higher temperature will cause in the glazes. Actually, my vases weep that were fired to ^10 at the craft center when I was taking classes there. So maybe I should just give up making vases! I am not satisfied with what I've been able to do painting designs on my pots and that might be best done in the majolica style--which is low fire again. I think I need to satisfy that quest before moving on. So you see I'm not at all clear about what I am going to do nor what I want to do.
The most exciting thing in my ceramics life right now is a new book I bought for myself--as a birthday present.
I heard Robert Piepenburg speak at NCECA several years ago and was very moved by his presentation. I have another book he wrote--a very small book that left me wanting more. When I saw the ad for this new book I was very eager to get it. Because it was written by him but also because I've been wishing for some instruction about 'ceramic design'. I expected this to be something of a 'how-to' book, but it isn't. I'm half way through reading it and have just come to the discussion of the 'elements of design'. The book is very inspirational, just as his talk was years ago. For me, it is a treasure. But it has not been easy reading. He is dealing with intangibles: design, spirit, and love. The essentials of life and art. But not easy to define and I have to re-read parts to be sure I am understanding his words in the way he is using them. It does make me eager to get back into the studio and see how reading the book may affect what I do with the clay.
When Jim and I were in Oaxaca for my niece's wedding last August we saw a rug/tapestry on the wall of a small shop and fell in love with it. After much discussion, consideration, and some haggling we bought the rug. Not until this January did we manage to get it up on the wall. We are delighted.
And so my new year begins!