Expectations, Failures, and Time...

Going into this week I thought that I would be unloading beautiful pieces from my kiln and getting ready to share them with you today. Typically that moment when I’ve just finished throwing a form, is my absolute favorite moment in the process. That freshly thrown piece is glistening and full of opportunity. From that time, I’m working hard to get it through the rest of the steps so I can get that new piece glazed and fired. Unloading a finished piece is my second favorite moment. It's when every touch of my hand and all of the energy I’ve put into my work is finally ready to be shared as an actual object. This particular week, my kiln had other ideas and took a whole lot of my work (and a lot of my excitement) as a sacrifice.

I have been working on the wheel since the beginning of August on a small batch of work. That time was used for a truly glorious month plus of making new work. So much good stuff happened while I was making these pots. Like most work cycles in the studio, I spent a week or so sketching out some new ideas the only way I know how, on the wheel in 3D and in real time. During the next few weeks I was building on that new knowledge to find the forms I wanted to explore. I honed in on the details of making. I tweaked a couple of my throwing techniques as I made this batch of work for no particular reason other than that it was exciting. I used blue slip for the design details that I usually use black slip for. It fires a bit brighter and has a lot more of the line-bleeds that I love so much. I wanted, perhaps needed some brighter things. My work was looking and feeling good. The trajectory of my work was right where I wanted it to be.

One of my mentors, Don Reitz, used to say that you can’t “lose” a piece until it’s finished. If it falls while you’re throwing, you never really made the form you wanted since you were still pushing that clay do just a bit more work. If it cracked as it dried, the clay particles weren’t aligned in a way that gave the piece the structure it needed. If it didn’t make it through a bisque firing because of an air-bubble, you were shown that the routine prep work was as important as the fun parts of making.

This week, I was once again reminded that the new pieces I’m so excited about is not truly finished until it's out of the kiln, cleaned up, and sanded. After all of my work– my time, my labor, the waiting for the next step in the process, I'm left with none of the results I was so looking forward to.

In the heat of the moment after yesterday’s let-down, I wrote on Twitter that the gods of process have a tendency to fuck with your feelings of expectations and excitement from time to time. They clearly did for me this week.

The question I had for myself later in the day as I was cleaning up was– What’s worse, losing all of these pieces or losing the time I had spent making these pieces? I don’t know the answer to that. Those pieces weren’t mine yet. That time that I could easily consider to have been wasted was also full of energy, ideas and an updated vocabulary of forms to work with for my next batch.

All of this is also to say that there’s no Porcelain Drop next week, but you already knew that. I’m hopeful that it will be sometime in October...I guess we’ll learn that little detail together.

-Keith


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