Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Back in the saddle again

Oh! It is good to be back making pottery! Being around all of that clay (none of which I got to take home, by the way! Arg!) was just a teaser. I had such a thrill finding the beautiful ceramic pieces, breaking the crude clay apart in my hands to uncover fired clay, but I was itching to be making something myself.

I was inspired in two specific ways by my week down in Orange. The first I've had a little bit of a hard time expressing but let me give it a go.

As I worked along side these archaeologists, I tried to ask as many questions as I could, not only about the work we were doing but about themselves and what they were interested in. Most people, interesting people, have some path or idea of a path that they are on and love to share about it. One of my favorite things is to understand where other people came from and where they are going, with all of the branches that are some how included in creating their path.

Each of the archaeologists had started with a different idea and all ended up at the same place. They each knew a lot about what was happening at the Montpelier site specifically, the history there, the artifacts and dates, etc. But they all had a different background and angle that they would share as they dug, asking each others' opinions and advice. I could pull a new artifact out of the dirt and one of them would recognize the pattern and glaze color on a piece of ceramics and be able to tell me the date/era and what it was made of. One piece, the black and cream that you see to the left, is stoneware and the glaze is a lovely mixture of tobacco juice and urine (I'll have to try that some time). I began to really love the specialties and respect the knowledge that each had. I wanted to hear more about what they wanted to study and could just imagine the specific fields being incredibly interesting to them.

I have struggled with honing in on one specific area, being distracted by all of the possibilities and interesting things around me. But this experience really brought home the value in being realistic about what you are good at, what interests you and following that, no matter what sort of wild goose chase it leads you on... because, in the end, it all comes together to give you a rich and full perspective on exactly what you are working on.. what you will work on. Whether its a conversation with one person, a short time volunteering, or years at a job you aren't that enthused about, as long as you have taken the time to know yourself well enough and have guts to try, it will all come together.

I hope that made some sense...

The second inspiration was not so serious but very inspiring none the less! I loved looking at the old techniques, shapes, decorations, and glazes. It made me want to do a little more research on all of that and try my hand at reproducing some of it ... maybe with a modern, Sarah twist. Jennie had a thought along these lines, that we could go to the National Gallery and draw some of the pottery in paintings and try our hand at those as well! We'll see what comes of this... You may be reading about tobacco juice and urine experiments!


  1. That so rad. All of it. The whole thing. I'm really glad that your getting to sink your fingers deep into your studies. Thats the best route. I think I'm spreading myself out too thin. In my studies anyway. Makes me want to move to Bangladesh where I can live for 40$ a month, have a man servant to help me carry massive canvases out into the landscape and eat three square meals... Oh back to reality.I was kinda blown away by the idea of taking pottery forms from paintings. It makes perfect sense. I just always thought in terms of how they were painted into the picture. Any way, keep going strong, and I think your right, things will eventually happen. Who knows, I've found no where in the bible where it says, " and I will cultivate you as an artist, giving you just the right climate for you to reach your highest level etc." I 've looked, it ain't there. However he is the potter we are the clay.
    Remember your the clay, he's the potter,

  2. makes perfect sense. bravo.

    also, i love that matisse.

  3. Chris, you're so rad. no, really though, thanks for the comments... Bangladesh sounds pretty awesome. imagine an artist's commune... i feel like we've talked about this before...

    Maggie, i love that Matisse too. and thanks for the affirmation. it helps!

  4. Your blog "Back in the saddle again" was a very interesting post. Thank you for taking the time to share it with us and for showing all those beautiful photos, your work is really appreciated.

    I run a related blog about pottery and was recently quoted saying…

    If you are looking for a great creative outlet or a new hobby that can bring in a little spare change while you are at it, you may want to consider learning to make your own pottery.

    Feel free to check out the full blog post on my related blog
    over at…



  5. lionel1, glad you enjoed! thanks for the comment. i loved that video on your link. do you know who that potter is?