Creative Cells Collide


I am feeling uninspired. I have potter’s block.

I’m not proud of it, but it happens. I want to make, but when I’m in the studio I don’t know what to make.  When I do make, many of my pots collapse.

Why am I  uninspired?

In part, I am waiting to get the results from the my upcoming firing on Memorial Day 2010. I have glaze tests and new forms ready for loading and firing next weekend.  I’m excited to see how they all come out, how they inspire new ideas and changes to current forms.

In other part, my lack of inspiration comes from my apparent need for urgency.  I have four months to my next firing.  Even with 25 cubic feet of kiln to fill in mid-September, I’m not driving to get work made.  I never realized I had this procrastination streak.

Cells Colliding

But the big reason I’m suffering from potter’s block is my creative cells  are colliding.  I’ve written most of my life.  This blog was a natural extension of my clay work. But it has inspired my writing cells, which are colliding with my clay cells and right now the writing cells are overpowering.

There are many things I want to write about that don’t fit in this space.  So I will be writing a new blog on a different website.  It’s not pottery related.  It’s more like inspirational personal essay. I’m super excited about this new journey.  But until I learn how to segregate my different creative cells (or have them peaceably coexist) it seems that my pottery cells are taking a back seat.

It’s all a bit ironic.  For so long I convinced myself I wasn’t creative.  But pottery taught me other wise.  The confidence I gained from pottery has poured over into my writing (which I had always been interested in, but never gave myself permission to do).  I now write for several hours a day (even if I don’t complete much).  It’s exhilarating.  I am loving it, even though it is hard.

Get in the Studio Anyway

It would be easy to stay out of the studio while I have pottery block.  I’ve been contemplating it.  This last weekend, I really didn’t want to go.  Highly unusual for me.  But I get grumpy when I’m not playing in clay.  So I went anyway.

After three days in the studio, the tray below is all I have to show for my efforts.  Despite the circumstances, I do like it.  It’s the largest tray I have made.  I still need to work out the handles, but these are getting closer to what I have been envisioning. And while a lot of clay hit the recycle bin in those three days to get to this, I’m glad I stuck it out.

Move Past This

This weekend I am off to write and maybe take a short hike.  Then we fire the gas kiln on Monday.  By Wednesday I will have my firing results.  I will have finished my first two installments on my new blog.  I will flip through my sketch book, and maybe add a few ideas.  I hope all this accomplishment will pave the way for my pottery cells to come back and work their creative magic.

What do you do to get out of a creative funk?

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About Claytastic

Health coach. Writer. Teacher. Artist. Living an amazing life with MS. Interested in bringing peace and beauty into people's lives.
This entry was posted in Artistic Inspiration, Pottery and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Creative Cells Collide

  1. Jacomina de Regt says:

    I just go down into the studio and sew building blocks for utilitarian or children’s quilts.. they are always used up and after a while I get tired of this straight forward work and something fun and artsy comes to mind and I can work again. I have a different block right now.. I have an art quilt all designed but still a lot of really hard finishing work to do before I can even start to embellish and be creative again and I am not allowing myself to do something different because this one has to be finished before Xmas. Procrastination galore..

  2. pzkinsmith says:

    If I get in a creative funk I have to do something else. Garden, cook, clean, loud music, anything but what I was doing. Sometimes a glass of wine with friends does the trick! Sometimes a movie I haven’t seen in a while. Hang in there, it will end, they always do.

  3. Vicki says:

    I hear you! Sometimes when you are pulled in another direction you can’t commit the usual focus to ceramics. Creativity inspires creativity, but you only have so much creative energy and if writing is sucking it up I’m not surprised the clay is slowing down. But you made me laugh when you said you get grumpy if you don’t play in clay… it really is a part of us, isn’t it? And as for when I’m in a creative funk: I do the same as pskinsmith, change it up and have fun with something else for a while.

  4. Oh you ladies are great. All wonderful suggestions. Changing it up is a great idea, although I fear changing it up too much will muddy the waters.

    But never fear, I am canning my plans to write on Saturday and instead hiking with my hubby with a fully charged camera at the ready. Fresh air. Great views. And a chance to snap pics for blog posts as well as pottery ideas. Every cell should be happy.

    Is it Friday yet?

  5. Hey Laurie… How about letting your creative efforts cross-pollinate… You’ve already done that by writing about pottery. Maybe now you could integrate writing into your pots… how would that work?

    Have a great weekend!

    • Really interesting idea Grace. I’ve never liked my handwriting, so that may hold me back, but I’ll explore that. And funny thing, I have offered to make and donate some mugs for a local MS fund raising group, which of course would require me to put words on the mug – not something I usually do. So maybe this merging is a whole new avenue. Thanks for the idea – you definitely have me thinking.

  6. carter says:

    The two parts you identify in “why am I uninspired?” I think really come down to one thing, and you sum it up in the next section of “cells colliding”. Your focus is not on the immediacy of clay at the moment. You sound more concerned with waiting for kiln results and the lack of immediacy for the subsequent firing than in actually working with wet clay. As you are no doubt aware, being successfully creative requires that your focus is on what you are doing at the moment, and work on the wheel especially becomes productive when the world shrinks down to that little spinning disk and the lump of clay in its center. You sound entirely distracted from your wet clay work at the moment, and maybe you are right to take a break from it and do other things. There is no crime in being interested in more things than can be done in a single day, and sometimes you have to choose, to prioritize, and one pursuit may thrive while others suffer. To force yourself to work in clay when you are not truly focusing on it sounds more like a day job than a passionate exploration of one’s personal vision. Don’t ever let your passion become the rote obligation of a job. You will end up resenting what you should be craving and enjoying.

    That being said, our minds and interests are somewhat tractable and can be retrained to focus on the things we consciously want. I have a friend right now who has suffered so many reversals over the last year and a half that he has made fewer pots over that time than he normally makes in a few weeks. He just isn’t in the mood and feels anything he made would be garbage. My advice to him was that he should start out on a path to rediscover why making pots was so important to him, and that projects which end in frustration are never helpful. So, I told him to start out just making simple things that he might normally make for waring up, and that he probably shouldn’t even keep them. The point isn’t yet to make things to keep but just to have fun with clay. Putting pressure on yourself that this lump of clay has to be something that survives and that you feel good about just sets you up for failure. If it turns out to be something you like, sure, save it. But that is not the purpose of this exercise. You can surely afford a few hours, a few days, of just messing around without any stress inducing agenda if the pay off is that you reclaim your passion for working in clay. The beauty of clay is that everything that doesn’t turn out can be wedged up and reused so that nothing is truly lost. How lucky are we with that?

    Right now you are exhilarated by working on your writing. With that focus and that passion it is easy to accept that the work is difficult and that you haven’t yet completed much. If you were not as passionate, as you are perhaps feeling with clay at the moment, it might be more difficult to sustain your interest in the face of adversity and distraction. As artists we train ourselves to listen to and to explore our passions. This is often different from the myriad of pressures that constrain us throughout the rest of our lives. Being in touch with and motivated by these passions is a gift, and the product of these labors is our gift to the world. I say that if you have found something new to be passionate about you need to pursue it with the whole of your heart. Don’t hold back and don’t suffer regrets.

    Good luck!!!

  7. Thanks Carter. Wonderful advice. Lot’s to chew on.

    We fired the gas kiln yesterday, which is always a great opportunity to make lots of pots. Instead of going for numbers, I decided to focus on the thing that has alluded me (and many potters) – the teapot! I started with four bodies but ended up with two that I just love. It took me the entire firing, but that’s ok. These are the first teapots I have really liked. I mean really liked. They are me, or at least the begin of that exploration.

    I’ll post about them later.

  8. Pingback: Journey Toward my Passion: Expanding my creative license and a few teapots « The Spirit of Clay, by Laurie Erdman

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