Be in conversation with your self, your materials, your process, one and all. And welcome the off-centered moments in your life, of which there are and will be many, into your work: in that axis is your praxis.Auguste Elder
As we begin a new equinox, I think about circularities and rotation. I was in conversation just yesterday with a ClayHouse potter who noticed, during my demonstration on how to throw a vase from a cylinder, that my clay was not perfectly centered on the wheel. He was correct, perhaps more correct than he may have realized. While the top two-thirds of the clay was centered the bottom, near the bat, was a little off.
Every potter allows for a certain “tolerance” of imbalance in their work flow. Some, like myself, though I am not alone in this, invite the imbalance to varying degrees. I think of what musician Jack White spoke about in the documentary film, “It Might Get Loud.” His preference for playing cheaper model guitars with bent necks and wonky construction gives him the opportunity to wrestle with the instrument on stage, and lend additional energy and character, or what I like to call “signature”, into his musicianship.
Some days I walk like a giant (at 5’5″), and some days a dry leaf on the sidewalk throws me off my path. Paying attention and welcoming these variances in our stride offers a tremolo note to an otherwise straight-lined, flat intention. Some days I am more centered than others; some days I am vibrant, others dim.
In what is often called “honesty” in pottery, the ceramist’s ability to record their vitals in the piece(s) of the day is something to give serious thought to in one’s work. The day I gave my demo, I knew a few things:
-the clay I was using was stiffer than usual,
-my body was more tired and achy than usual for a number of earthly, human reasons,
-with my particular experience and skill level, I knew I could work with a degree of wobble in clay and still urge into being a satisfying piece.
The latter point extends well beyond the potter’s wheel, and into every corner of our lives.
Working with, rather than against, the conditions of the day and body is an opportunity to know oneself and our fluctuating limits, and to make something from that place, that time: to meet the materiality of the clay and body somewhere in the middle is to record your life in your work.Auguste Elder
Today’s video-clip is short and poignant: Hiromi Wake’s rotating vase with intentional asymmetry, conjuring the illusion of two faces in conversation: look more at the negative/empty space to see the “conversation.”