Stephani Stephenson on tue 26 oct 04
There is something that happens with a large project,
when you multiply the multiples,
when an =91it =91 begins to resemble an entire subspecies,
The studio is in full production, the hive is buzzing
you become engaged in work that soon abandons your brainy neurons and=20=
courses through your veins and muscles.
=46rom dawn to dusk, the clay is telling you what to do and when , =
rather it is asking you to dance, and showing you the moves.
When the scale is increased, you move beyond fixating on the single =20
pot, the tile, the piece.
Though always attending to the quality of every single piece, you move=20=
with an eye for the whole of it , and the whole of it becomes. =91the=20
It is a wonderful exercise. and , oh yes I am talking about production.
There is beauty in it. a production potter knows about this.
It reminds me of farming or baking or gardening.
Long summer days when , from sunrise to sunset you move from crop to=20
crop , feeding to feeding.
The revolution of days and tasks is not determined by you .
Yes, You set it in motion and then IT takes YOU to the dance.
You follow and observe and move in concert with it , gracefully and on=20=
off days, doggedly .
In the past week we have ben pressing large size paver tiles, a few=20
hundreds, a fairly large load for this studio.
They are big and slick and beautiful when damp.
Making this quantity in one run is like setting loose a large fleet=20
of sailing ships into the studio.
At the press , pugs are cut and stacked and boards are stacked, ready=20=
Coming off the press one at a time, just enough boards to fill the=20
baker=92s carts .
As boards grow scarce and carts fill ,I wheel them to the large=20
outdoor racks where they will begin to stiffen .
This weeks damp weather has made indoor drying an impossibility.(here=20
it is cooler and damper inside)
The large racks themselves are rigged up like sailing vessels, with=20
drop down plastic sheeting which can let breezes waft through
or be battened down tight in rain or in hot sun or wind.
This week has brought rain, breezes, clouds, hot sun , i.e. =20
and it is all about osmosis ... keeping that smooth flow, water=20
leaving clay at a nice smooth pace.
All week I feel as I have been sailing these ships on their voyage=20
from wet to dry.
Taking advantage of weather changes, battening down for storms,=20
mediating the changes,
full speed ahead when conditions are right. that is what the process as=20=
a whole feels like.
I have felt creatively and wholly engaged in it.
there is also beauty in the seemingly mundane parts of the process.
For example, there is a magic moment , yes a moment, when the paver is=20=
ready to be released from the mold board.
One minute it cleaves and sticks and is too soft, too soft to move or=20=
The next minute , you burp the board and the paver slides neatly off,=20
onto a supportive forearm,
smoothly swung from the damp mold board to a fresh drying board, and=20
Then you move through 3 or four hundred, learning to see and seize that=20=
All timing, not rigid clock timing, but timing determined by =20
movement of air and water.
You are just there to observe , and move with it.
The next movement in the dance comes when the pavers are ready to be=20
stood on end for further drying,
resembling bound books now in a beautiful library of clay . Again,=20=
I notice my hands in the dance, I discover, then perfect , then enjoy=20=
, the small and large motions,
and even the sounds : thumping the boards, sliding the paver off with=20=
while flipping the discarded board onto the stack, without breaking=20
the clay is ready for your hand right when your hand is there to move=20
Like a square dance, when the partner's hand is right there, at just=20
the right time....allemande left....
There is , for me, a great pleasure and thankfulness that the body can=20=
do this work and thrives on this work.
Because this is real work; bending , lifting, each tile at 15 pounds=20=
there develops an economy of movement.
economy of movement is the nature of this dance.
The dance is also born of necessity.
Shelf space s carce, pressing boards in demand,
clay has its own patterns: if not pulled from mold boards ,
these large tiles may not release on their own
will literally pull the boards up
bending and warping them
or if the board wins the tug o war, the tile will crack
pulled too soon, the tile distorts,
dried too fast the corners dry while the center is wet and the corners =20=
so the conga line of pavers cannot and will not rest.
Water is leaving them, air is entering.
a school of tilefish, a flock of tilebirds , clay armada
if it is an orchestra, you are both the conductor and the roadie.
With a new clay, and a new size my only guide has been , watch it like=20=
a farmer watches her seedlings,
sail it like your favorite boat,
run it like your favorite river,
ski it like your favorite slope
dance with it as with your favorite partner.
someone stopped by the studio the other day and commented, upon seeing=20=
(so many squares i guess..) .
=93Pity=94, she said , =93That there isn=92t anything creative in the =
oops, I think she missed it.
Jennifer Boyer on thu 28 oct 04
Oh Stephani, you nailed it. This is my world that you describe. I've
always been a bit embarrassed at how easy it is to keep me amused: just
give me a studio full of pots to dance with and I'm happy. It doesn't
matter that I've made the shapes dozens of times before. The whole
rhythm of the studio is the thing..... of course a new glaze, or a new
shape is fun to play with, but it all comes down to the dance.....
Thanks for your stream of consciousness....
Jennifer, flipping bowls, throwing lids, unloading kilns today
On Oct 27, 2004, at 2:00 AM, Stephani Stephenson wrote:
> There is something that happens with a large project,
> when you multiply the multiples,
> when an =91it =91 begins to resemble an entire subspecies,
> The studio is in full production, the hive is buzzing
> you become engaged in work that soon abandons your brainy neurons
> courses through your veins and muscles.
> =46rom dawn to dusk, the clay is telling you what to do and when ,
> rather it is asking you to dance, and showing you the moves.
> When the scale is increased, you move beyond fixating on the single
> pot, the tile, the piece.
> Though always attending to the quality of every single piece, you
> with an eye for the whole of it , and the whole of it becomes.
> It is a wonderful exercise. and , oh yes I am talking about production.
> There is beauty in it. a production potter knows about this.
> It reminds me of farming or baking or gardening.
> Long summer days when , from sunrise to sunset you move from crop
> crop , feeding to feeding.
> The revolution of days and tasks is not determined by you .
> Yes, You set it in motion and then IT takes YOU to the dance.
> You follow and observe and move in concert with it , gracefully and
> off days, doggedly .
Thistle Hill Pottery