I seem to have had the best of all problems recently – I do not have very much to put on the shelves at Klay and almost nothing at all for the Open Studios which starts on 10th November because I have sold so much work over the past few weeks. This is a wonderful feeling in some ways but it does leave me with a problem!
I should be in the studio every day at the moment frantically making so that I can put something on the shelves. Somehow that seems to miss the point of what I am trying to do though. I want, more than anything, to enjoy my making. I want to have time to experiment, to hone my skills and to learn new things. So it really does not suit me to be having to work hard. I am sure that it would suit my bank balance, mind you!
Actually it is worse than that because if I feel that I should be making it puts me off and I don’t want to do it at all. So here I sit finding all kinds of excuses for not getting anything done and just letting the clock tick quietly on.
That said, I have been getting a bit of experimenting done and here is lots of stuff wrapped in plastic which is half made and I do have a bisque firing on at the moment which will hopefully yield a few good pieces but finished work, ready to sell off the shelf is going to be in short supply in November!
So I have decided that I am going to do something completely different this autumn. I have been making a number of pieces for Tregony recently and I know that they have sold at least one so this time I am going to make no bones about my activities over the four days that the studio doors are open. I shall have my hands in the clay and, in tune with Poldark Series 2, I will be continuing to create more of my Cornish Mining pieces. I am looking forward to showing people how I work and I can always give my hands a quick rub if anyone wants to take a closer look at the work that I do have ready to sell or to make notes for anyone who is after that very personal piece which reminds them of a time or place which is special to them.
When I was the mother of teenage children I found myself in a regular conflict zone. I am blessed with two wonderful offspring who have always been very different in everything they do and think. Their attitude to revision and coursework while studying for GCSE and A level exams was at the opposite ends of the spectrum and I was stuck in the middle as they were both aiming for public exams at the same time. I remember the daily mantra of advising one that it was time for a rest break whilst the other was constantly on the receiving end of my nagging to go and get some work done, followed several hours later by him coming downstairs to tell me that he had spent the time re-planning his schedule. The inevitable result being that he had now got several hours fewer in which to do the actual work – and so it went, day after day!
And now, here I sit, knowing that the final semester is well under way and finding all the time in the world not to get on with the work. I have even been contemplating cleaning the house! So it was a well deserved kick up the backside to be told in a tutorial on Thursday to ‘stop mucking about and just make’ I know, I know! But I have been caught in a circle of indecision. So this is the week! . . . half term from teaching gives me 3 whole, precious days in which to trawl round the V&A ceramics department, plan a schedule, get to Cornwall and gather images, clay, organic materials to add to glazes, paint the changing colours of the water, write a 4000 word essay, plan my glaze technology for this semester, visit a great looking exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, pop down to Bath and buy some more clay and oxides . . . . I think I can feel a couple of hours planning my schedule coming on.
Actually I have not been completely inactive: I have been doing some testing and I am currently waiting for the kiln to come down so that I can see whether anything good is going on at all. That is part of the trouble with ceramics; everything takes so long before you know what to do next. But I have collected a number of bags of vegetation from my bit of Cornwall and turned them into ash which has been sieved and tested to stoneware and I have been making a few trial pieces but the problem with ‘grunge’ is that it takes for ever before it can even enter the kiln. I am following the instructions provided in a wonderful book by Miranda Forrest which I was given for Christmas and which I am finding very inspiring. It gives some great ideas as to how to test natural materials. At the back of the book there are a number of artists who work with these kinds of ideas, including Fiona Byrne-Sutton. She is not an artist whose work I know but I need to seek her out and see her work for real because I think the images are incredible. Perhaps I should add that to my list . . .