Patterns: Part One


The studio operates like a creaky tin man. When well oiled, it's smooth sailing and I get through throwing weeks or decorating weeks exactly as I had planned. I throw. I decorate. I do the work.

Sometimes I forget to oil the tin man.
And I usually forget to oil the tin man right around 1 week before every firing, and the studio falls into pieces. A shit show ensues. Our regular programming of efficiency, scheduling and organization crumbles to bits, and minor hysterics take place.

I've wondered why this happens, every time, like clock work. The rest of the time goes by so smoothly! What the hell happens one week before every firing?!

Spoiler alert: I'm a little crazy.

I have a thing for nicely stacked pots. I like to see them in neat little rows, lined up like soldiers ready for battle. I like to see stacks of bowls piled high, patterns made from their matching silhouettes. I like to stack my bisque kilns efficiently, with pots inside pots inside pots. Every space is filled, rows of jugs lined up in concentric circles spiralling out from the centre of the kiln to the edges. I like pattern. I like repetition. But after most of the work has been put through the bisque kiln, there are always weird tid-bits left over. They never fit properly. They don't make nice clean rows. They're never the right height. There's always one damned vase that needs to fit on a shelf with a whack of plates (because, of course, I hate firing plates, so I leave them until the very last firing, which only encourages this predicament). The bisque kiln is chaos, the leftovers on the shelf are chaos. Chaos breeds chaos. And a chaotic space makes for a chaotic mind. A chaotic mind means I forget that I shouldn't have coffee in the morning, or that eating lunch is important. I start to misplace my tools, stop taking breaks, and end up working longer days, every day.

Thanks to this pattern of week-before hysterics, there's always a "last-minute day on the schedule. It's tomorrow. Last minute decorating, last minute speed-drying, last minute bisquing. Wednesday and Thursday are glazing and wadding days. We'll be back on schedule by then, just give it a few all nighters.