Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bad Throwing Day!

last week, everything's going great

Last week things were going great. I was very happy with two of my sculptures and I finished building on three pieces. I was feeling good about my work. And then I remembered another commitment I had made for the summer. And then another. See, working in my studio at home can mean a few things and I approach them differently. My favorite thing to do is to come up with a new idea for a sculpture, build it from scratch and, eventually, finish it. I also feel pretty good about finishing work that is in pieces in my studio from last summer.

blah cups

For some reason, when I am not in my studio, or when I just get back into it, other projects seem reasonable as well. At the start of this summer, I made a bunch of thrown pieces for Yakima Rotary. It was a nice way to get back into the studio for the summer, it went fairly quickly, and the stuff is done and delivered. But two weeks is about all the functional throwing I can tolerate happily before I want to build up and out and non-functionally.

the look I was going for

So these other commitments: both are more restrictive than building sculpture. One I agreed to in the middle of the academic year; I will be making something to do with metal for the Art on the Wall exhibition at the Fourth Street Theatre. The other is a set of thrown mugs. 


I thought, for some reason, that I could just quickly throw the mugs in a few days and have them done in a week and a half or so. I threw most of the commission pieces in a few days. But, apparently, after doing the commission and the sculptures, I forgot how to throw. I had a terrible throwing day on Friday. I had trouble centering. I had trouble with air bubbles, I had trouble with just about every step of the process. It was incredibly frustrating.


I tell my students that some days you just have a bad throwing day. It's true, some days are just like that. But it is a whole lot easier to tell someone else that bad days happen than it is to accept that I am having a bad day.


It is possible that a couple of things impacted my throwing. My throwing stool randomly broke last week while I was sitting on it. On Friday I used the stool for throwing, but with the casters taken off and that meant I was seated lower than usual. Sometimes sitting at a different height, or in a different position can contribute to a bad throwing day.

handles I tried to pull, that wiggled and cracked and bent and annoyed me

I also made some adjustments to my clay while I was preparing the clay. Because I cut apart the clay and put it back together, I may have introduced air pockets in the clay that turned into annoying air bubbles in the walls of my pieces.

too-dry handle and sloppy attachment

There are any number of things that might have contributed to me being stressed, tense, distracted or otherwise "off."  Sometimes the best response is to take a break. I scrapped several pieces from this project, but I did manage to throw about twelve cylinders. 

the sound of this handle is "thunk" (as it hits the bat)

Much later that day I pulled handles, badly. I took a break for a couple hours and came back to clean off my wheel and get the handles ready. I had left throwing water in the splash pan and the clay had settled at the edges, forming a strangely stiff, crumbly silt ring around the splash pan. It got me wondering if the clay was a little weird, too. But, I don't usually throw with porcelain and I don't usually leave a dirty wheel for a couple hours.

the little handle is ok

I managed to pull more handles than I needed and not all of them were awful. I left them covered until Saturday afternoon when I attached them. Of course they were drier than I intended. I had originally planned to throw in the morning, pull handles and trim after lunch, then attach the handles in the afternoon. Waiting a day stiffened up the handles more than the mugs. I was able to attach them all, but I'm not excited about any of the handles I made. 


And, sadly, some days are like that (even in Australia).

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