In my first semester of our second year at Sheridan we had Tony Clennell twice a week to teach us throwing, altering and hand building.We would meet every Monday morning with our coffees, sit around the work table, and Tony would tell us stories and tales of wisdom. He would bring in a group of pots from his personal collection each week for us to look at and discuss. I severely miss these mornings. They were such a refreshing and thoughtful way to start the day.
Among the many sayings, thoughts and advice that Tony divulged over the course of that semester, there is one piece of information that I have been thinking of all week. One of those Monday mornings we were having our weekly chat, and along came the thought of "how long does it take to make a pot?" Tony had the answer. In fact, he had written out a step by step process on how a pot is made and all of the chores that are necessary for its making. From picking up clay and materials at your local pottery supply store to photographing and packaging your finished work, there is an extensive list of work that needs to be done in order to make a salable/show-able item.
In Professional Practice last week, our instructor mentioned the statistic that the actual MAKING of work takes up only 30-40% of the tasks necessary for a successful business in art or craft. That means all of the other aspects of a ceramic business: emailing clients and galleries, loading and unloading your kilns, mixing glazes, reclaiming clay etc. constitute more than two thirds of your time as a maker.
This week, I've found these two pieces of information to be particularly true in my own studio.
Two classmates and I are planning a wood firing for the week before our mid term critiques. Along with Tony's list of activities in the life of a pot, he also notes that in the case of a wood firing one must add an additional list of chores to the original activities. Unloading wood, cutting, splitting and mixing wadding and door slop are only the beginning of the extensive requirements for firing with wood.
With the help of our outstanding studio tech Hugh, we cut half of the wood necessary for the firing and will be splitting it over the next few days. We will repeat the process next week.
Along with preparation for the wood firing, I found myself spending the majority of Monday drawing images for my silk screen. After three hours of drawing, we spent the afternoon coating our screens with emulsion in the textile studio, and returned Tuesday morning to expose and clean up. I will be using this screen to develop a new layer of imagery on my future work. I will update with photographs when I get around to trying them out!
With all of these additional chores, it's easy to see that I have not made many pots this week. On Monday I threw, trimmed and decorated a dozen teabowls, made half a dozen side plates and started to make some porcelain cups. Tuesday I finished up the cups, made another half dozen side plates and finally went out to buy cupcakes to test on my cupcake stands. These at least, are ready for the first firing.
I'm leaning towards the second form from the left and the form on the far right, but it will take glazing and firing to see which ones really work. The cupcakes make me happy though.
Until next time.