There were so many great quotes from the NCECA pre-conference “Making through Living and Living through Making” that it was hard to focus on the demos. Most of the best quotes came from Ron Meyers. The best one, in my opinion was, “show them you’re thinking.” I really connected with this. I had just finished a three-day workshop with Nick Joerling. Of all the great things Nick showed us and discussed with us, the depth to which he thought out every bit of his artistic statement has really stuck with me.
When using a slab bottom on a pot, Nick replicates his fluid line from the pot, onto the slab so it shows up on the bottom of the pot (see photo below). This captivated me. I have always paid particular attention to how I finish my trimmed bottoms, but slabs have been more of a challenge for me. This was such a beautiful, thoughtful touch. It showed me that Nick was really thinking about this piece. And of course, when I place my mug in the dishwasher, I get a nice surprise.
While at the pre-conference, I got the opportunity to add a Lorna Meaden mug to my collection and was delighted to see a similar thoughtful approach to her work. Her mishima and glaze work pattern up on the bottom of her pot as well. Obviously another step, and one most potters would not take because of time required or just not thinking about it. But as a user of both of these vessels, I appreciate that the makers took the time and thought through this. (Note, Lorna will be joining us next spring at the Art League for a weekend workshop and I personally can’t wait).
I have taken these lessons from Ron and Nick and Lorna with me into the studio over the last few months. I had believed that I think through my pots. But when I graduated from student to associate and got control over the entire making process, I had to raise my level of thinking. I had many more choices to make. But with the lessons of these masters, I find myself being even more methodical about the construction and particularly the finishing of my pots and the expression of my artistic statement. My slab bottoms are gaining some interest, and now include that element of surprise I so enjoy when flipping Nick and Lorna’s mug over.
But pot bottoms aren’t the only place to exercise my grey matter. I’ve also been thinking a lot about how to finish the rims of vessels – another constant struggle for me with all the alteration I do. My next firing will provide feedback on those rims, many of them fat and rolled, some innerward, some outward. So far, I prefer these to a rim that just seems to stop.
So what are you thinking about most in your art? How do you show the world that you are thinking?