Less is generally More

This week I had a meeting with a client about a commission that I am doing for her.  We were discussing the decoration for the interior of the piece.  She had previously provided me with several architectural plans and I had spent a while trying to work out which to use.  Now she had some better plans and she also had a map of the area which is the subject of the piece.  This meant that we were both in danger of becoming a bit overwhelmed by choice.  We tried out all sorts of combinations; she was so attached to the story behind the commission that was hard for her to decide what was the most important part.

The Battersea Vessel low res
Tell the whole story –
Or keep it simple?


In the past I have done very simple and, with equal success, included lots and lots of information all overlapping.  So which is best?  And how am I going to glean from a client which one they would prefer?

The problem is that until the images have been transferred onto the piece it is impossible to see how they work with the piece.  It is only when the transparency reveals the drawing and its relation to the markings on the vessel that you know if you have got it right.

A brainwave struck me as I was grappling with this.  I need to be able to see the impact of the drawn lines before I order the decals.  Why I didn’t think about it before I do not know but I am off to find an online stockist of transparent  film which will work with my antiquated printer right now!

Playing With Other People’s Memories!

This week I took on a new commission.  I spent a happy hour in my studio  with the customer.  We poured over the architects drawings of a beautiful looking Arts and Crafts style house which, in all probability, I will never see;  We discussed maps of the area where the house was built in order to get a feel for the place and to understand it from her point of view and then I started work on a test piece to explore the possibilities which she is hopeful that I can achieve.  I began by examining samples of the subsoil for stickiness and lime – stickiness is a good sign as it indicates a high proportion of clay in the soil whereas lime is a nightmare  because it decomposes in the kiln and then later on it very slowly and subversively destroys the ceramics made with it.  Fortunately there does not seem to be any in this sample.

Lime can be a nightmare – slowly and insidiously destroying a piece at a later date, as the pitting on the far side of this vessel demonstrates!

It is a funny feeling working with somebody else’s special memories.  On one level it makes me feel quite excited.  I love the idea of creating a piece which has real meaning to someone else and yet, at the same time, there is a massive sense of responsibility!  The clay can speak for itself.  The colours and contours which appear as I work can only tell of the landscape from whence they came.  So long as I relax and just let it guide me, the vessel should tell of the place which is so important to my customer.  The anxiety on my part is that I am playing with someone else’s memories.  Knowing how important my own memories are, I really appreciate the trust that this lady is putting in me to work with hers.  She has images in her head which I can never be party to and yet, somehow, the finished vessel must give sufficient of a hint to these pictures that it sparks a sense of well being in her and in the person for whom this vessel is a gift.  I am really looking forward to working on this vessel but a cannot claim for one minute that the project is worry-free.

Even if I were to travel to the area the images in my head would not be those of my customer.