I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been very productive lately when it comes to making any new work. I am not sure if it’s the awful news of late and all of the political campaign noise that’s distracting me or if it is the result of my mom duties or that I have been questioning whether or not I should even make pottery. To relate it in pottery terms, I feel like I have been looking for answers in a murky throwing bucket before the clay slurry has had a chance to settle to the bottom leaving clear water on top. Maybe my inattentiveness and reluctance to enter my studio is a combination of all of the above. It’s not like I haven’t been thinking about clay either – it’s something more.
At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Oh for Carpe Diem‘s sake, Cynthia, stop over analyzing everything! Just do it already and start making work and posting pretty pictures again.” I’ve decided to edit the political, financial, religious and mom stuff out of my original post and am going to cut to the chase today.
Here is part of what it comes down to: I’ve been a little hung up on making things to sell to other people when I’ve been trying to live a simpler less consumer driven life.
The philosophy of “living simply“ has ties to Transcendentalism, Epicureanism, Conservation, Social Justice, Sustainable Development, Ascenticsm, Taoism, Buddhism, and even Anarchism. According to social scientist and author of Voluntary Simplicity, Duane Elgin describes voluntary simplicity “as a manner of living that is outwardly more simple and inwardly more rich, a way of being in which our most authentic and alive self is brought into direct and conscious contact with living.”
By now, you’re either fully tuned out, or you’re saying, “Get to the point, sister!”
In the past few months, I’ve considered selling all my equipment and doing something else – something more service oriented. In the past few days, however, I’ve come to the conclusion that potters are part of an ancient tradition of making functional and decorative hand crafted work and are passing their knowledge to future artists. A hand made mug does cost quite a bit more than a cheap mass produced one from China sold at big box stores, but that purchase is also supporting a lifestyle that very well could become extinct. Now more than ever before, the arts are a necessary component of a healthy and balanced society. In a way, people like me as well as everyone listed in my blogroll on the right hand side bar, along with artisans around the world are sustaining an important tradition. In essence, the act of making and purchasing hand crafted items is a conscious choice that fits well into the philosophy of living a simpler life.
One of the fathers of the movement, Henry David Thoreau wrote Walden while living in a simple cabin outside town as an experiment to live close to nature with minimal personal stuff in the 1800’s. While I know life is more complicated than it was in the 19th C, and can’t really be compared or viewed in utopian or romantic terms, a place like Walden Pond sure sounds pretty enticing right now. Maybe my husband and daughter will be up for Thoreauesque experiment in the near future.
Either way, I feel like the clay slurry has settled and after letting my neuroses ferment for awhile, I realize that I am in the right place right now. I haven’t been taking advantage of the 6 uninterrupted hours I have available 5 days a week, to make work while my daughter is in school. All I lack right now is a little bit of discipline and the research stage has gone on long enough – time to start working in the studio.
Meanwhile, I took a close look at the work that I bisque fired the other day and am happy with the relief printed boxes and mugs. The work didn’t warp or crack and the design is crisp.
That’s it for today,