New Direction and Creative Explorations

Getting ready to carve rubber stamps
Mixing it up

Shortly after New Years, I didn’t have much going on in the studio…it was quiet after the holidays and a couple of online classes popped up on my radar and I thought, “Why not?”

I signed up for Molly Hatch’s/Ben Carter’s “Think Big” class and enrolled in Diana Fayt’s “The Clayer – Surfacing” class which ran concurrently for a bit. Why? I had been humming along just fine, but felt a bit bored creatively towards the end of 2014 and decided that learning something new would be a good jump start for the new year – a way to make some creative leaps with external motivation in the form of a class. I had already started the process of mixing things up in the studio, but then stalled once the holidays crept up.

I’m typically the type of person that jumps in head first and gives 110% to whatever it is I’m doing. It was no different for these e-courses. Emotionally, I was all over the place in the Think Big class. We were asked to do some real soul searching about the direction we wanted to move towards creatively, spiritually and financially. I am really inspired by Molly Hatch’s multi-faceted career as a maker and designer and I always look forward to Ben Carter’s interviews with “artists and culture makers” on The Tales of a Red Clay Rambler. At first, I didn’t think that I was interested in expanding outside of clay, but now I’m rethinking the possibilities.

I have always been a Jill of all trades, mistress of none. Yet, I have worked hard to focus on clay in the past two years in an effort to craft a career in ceramics. I have not dabbled in other mediums – I have concentrated on clay. The effort has not been for naught. I lost momentum in 2009 when I decided to go to graduate school for landscape architecture. I returned to clay in earnest late 2013. I also returned to making and working like I used to do before taking a clay sabbatical. In essence, I found it necessary to relearn how to work with the material, to understand the work flow, the making cycle and more. Going back to what I knew was easy. Switching gears is hard, but I’ve done my homework.

Graduate school was both a blessing and a curse for me. I loved stretching myself mentally and physically – accomplishing things that I never thought possible. It was a bust in that I adopted a more contemporary aesthetic that wasn’t totally authentic to me and I decided that I didn’t want to practice landscape architecture. The gifts that graduate school gave me are endurance, thick skin, humility and an ability to think bigger. Did I need to go to school to learn that? Probably not, but I can’t change the past.

Making handmade rubber stamps and testing on paper
Making handmade rubber stamps and testing on paper

The Clayer – Surfacing class was great! Diana is a fantastic instructor and was very encouraging to everyone. I wasn’t sure if I was interested in many of the techniques that she was teaching, but I love her work and have followed her on social media for years. We were given assignments every week and shared our efforts with each other and sometimes the world via social media. I have learned that I like Mishima (or the art of slip inlay) as a technique. I love creating my own patterns through the use of hand carved rubber stamps. Mono-printing on clay is cool. AND I really like hand building with clay.

I found joy again in creating, trying new things and working in multiple mediums. It was almost as if I were given permission to play and to go back to what I was doing before I went to graduate school. It’s the freedom to do what I want with no expectation of  a particular outcome. I also know that I am throwing my whole business plan out of the window.

Working out ideas on paper - seeing how they translate to a 3 dimensional object
Working out ideas on paper – seeing how they translate to a 3 dimensional object

Between these two classes, I have discovered that I actually have something to say and that I want to share these creative explorations out loud. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook just don’t have enough space to delve deeper.


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