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imposter? or am i an artist who has no business playing with pottery?

updated mon 29 aug 05


Debbie on sun 28 aug 05

This may sound like a dumb question. So be it. I have read only a few posts
on Clayart because I have just recently been able to purchase a kiln and
perhaps realize a dream of mine. But so far I must admit that I feel like I
am light years behind most of you.

I have never touched a kiln until yesterday. I've never been to any classes
or seen anyone do clay, ceramics, throw pottery, or mix or apply glazes
except on TV.

The only time I touched glaze was at a "paint your own pottery" place.

But yet I feel like this is MY medium, even though I don't have the money
(nor time with two toddlers) to go take a college course on the techiniques
of this art.

I have been searching for materials to scupt with. I've always been able to
visualize things but I don't have the knack to draw or paint. I have used
paper to make geometric sculptures, I have used corn husks to make dolls. I
enjoy both.

But nothing I have used would produce the living curves and versatile
dimensions I really want. Until I picked up some (really) old Sculpey from
my techinical college years. We never studied sculpture in school, but used
the clay to make a cartoon we have drawn. That was it. And we had to use
wire armature, which decreased for me the effect of true clay-to-hand
effect that I enjoy so much.

Anyway, once I picked up this clay several months ago, I realized that
it "spoke" to me. I loved the feel of it between my fingers. I loved seeing
my mind's images take place before me. But there was only one problem:
Sculpey doesn't hold up like "REAL" clay.

I didn't know that you had to support Sculpey in the oven, and my stuff
slouched horribly. I didn't know it required armature. I didn't know that
it can be under baked, over baked, and still have platicizers in the clay
afterwards that cause the clay to crumble. I didn't realize that only the
most stiffest of the stuff held up to pressure. And I didn't realize that
it was so much more expensive than ceramic clay (compare $1.50 per 2 oz. to
$.40 per lb.) The only catch was the kiln that I didn't posess.

So I have the kiln now.

But I don't know anything about ceramics. I took out as many books as the
three libraries in my area have. I have looked on the internet. I have
tried to gain as much understanding as I can.

But it's not the same as observing. It's not the same as doing. But I don't
know anyone in my immediate area who teaches classes. So I'm just going to
wing it.

But does this make me an imposter? Does the fact that I don't know how to
mix clay or glazes, or that I wouldn't know how to formulate my own glaze,
or for that matter that all the chemistry involved seems like Greek to
me....does it mean I'm not as good as those of you who do?

I don't consider myself a potter so much as an artist. I like making things
out of clay. I'll buy the prefabricated stuff and simply make my shapes and
decorate them. I think knowing the intricacies of the art would only
improve the outcome of my sculptures, but technically I don't think it's
necessary to make "good" art.

But do you, who have been doing this for years, perhaps, see me as someone
who shouldn't be here? Who should go back to play-dough and oven-bake clay,
and leave the "rea" stuff to those who know what they are doing?

Or do you accept me as a ceramic artist who sincerely wants to know all
there is, but in the meantime wants to begin already. And given the chance,
I will learn as much as I can from those around me.

I'm just curious. Because I want to consider myself among all the great
people who have been doing this craft for centuries. But I don't know if
I'm really an artist or just an imposter.