Hello and welcome to the Burnish Clay Studio Blog. In the studio, classes are well underway, we had our first Raku firing of the session on Saturday afternoon, and we have re-scheduled the Critique Club for August 1st at 6 pm. Additionally, I have been having a lot of fun on Burnish's Instagram account. I took some pics of the two Dylans and have been super-imposing them into studio pics once or twice a week just to mix it up. We are also seeing more and more people tag us in the posts of their pieces, and we love that. Please do keep it coming, and if you haven't done it yet, please do!
There is a poll in the studio regarding a karaoke/sing along night. It's on the white board next to the glaze samples. If you can, let us know, (by marking it on the board), if you would be interested in singing along to your favorite tunes on a karaoke machine while working on your pieces. As soon as we know if there is another interest, we will go about scheduling the event. The picture to your left is not of the poll, but of the Tradesies shelf with Dylan on it.
Knowing When to Let Go.
When you first learn how to create with clay, you tend to save everything. Every piece you make is rife with learning opportunities. It is the task of every ceramicist to become familiar with drying time, warping, cracking, and clay shrinkage. In addition, potters must learn how to use the wheel to create usable ware; including how to trim a decent foot and shape a pot worth holding. Creating satisfying surface decorations can at times feel like a life-long process.
After you feel like you have gotten the hang of the tools, materials, and patience required to work with clay, it becomes less necessary to save every piece you make, simply because the rudimentary lessons have been learned. So how do you decide when to let go? Do you measure the value of a piece by the lessons it can teach you? Is there more value in setting out with a plan in mind for each piece, and seeing how far you can go down that path before having to discard it when it goes too far from goodness?
The answer is most likely different for every maker. It is a special kind of accomplishment when you no longer have to hold on to the pieces that aren't quite there, but most learners don't take the time to celebrate that milestone, most likely because they are too focused on the next project.
As an instructor of many years, I have watched students throw work away because the piece didn't meet the unrealistic expectations they were holding on to, and have observed others struggle for too long with a piece that was too far gone to save.
The best advice I can give around letting go is to pay attention to how you are feeling when you are working on anything. If you are forcing it, struggling, or constantly frustrated, it might be worth considering if it is worth it. After all, this practice is really supposed to be relaxing in some measure, and if working on a piece is causing so much stress, that might be a sign that it is time to let go.
The other consideration is, and this is a biggie, what will happen to that piece after you are finished? Meaning, is there a place for another mediocre cup in your cabinet? Does your mom still love everything you give her, or, when you give your work to friends, do they thank you less enthusiastically than when you gave them those first (few) pieces?
One of the ways I know to throw something away is if it has been in a bisque state for any length of time. If I have work that has been sitting on the bisque shelves for any longer than three weeks, chances are I am not invested enough to glaze it. Likewise, if I come across a ware board full of work that I forgot I made, I force myself to examine whether or not I should be putting those piece through the system.
We each (should) have our own ways of determining when we should let go, and if you don't know, here is a list of things to think about when deciding:
It is worth considering these things when making objects that do not break down easily. Ceramics in most cases last forever, and it is simply not prudent to keep everything you make. You will save so much time if you set up guidelines for yourself before your throw yourself into making a bunch of work that might end up in Goodwill, or worse, the garbage.
Tip of the WEEK!
Here are the guidelines I use when I am considering throwing away my work. Keep in mind that I do a lot of class demonstrations, and also sell my work at shops around the Northwest.
The way I use this rubric is that if I get three out of five "yes" answers, I keep the piece.
1. Is this the best version of this piece that I can make right now?
2. Do I have a place to sell this, or a friend/family member I can give this to without annoying them with yet another piece of pottery?
3. If I see this piece through to the end, am I going to learn anything from the level of experimentation I undertake?
4. If this is a demo piece, will the students I am teaching learn anything by watching me complete it?
5. Is this work something I have kept track of in a timely manner as it moved through the firing/glazing processes?
Once you get your clay legs under you, you might want to think about ways to measure if something you have made is kiln worthy. Letting go of work that isn't up to standard is a lesson well worth learning. The sooner you can be more discerning about the work you let through, the more satisfied you will be with the quality of your work overall.
Grants with rolling deadlines-
Pollock Krasner – Rotating, No deadline – Information here.
Awesome foundation – No deadline – Information here.
One Grant Library for Research Online- Foundation Center.
Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grants – Information here
CES Artslink U.S. and International Grant Opportunities – Information here
Upcoming grant deadlines
Harpo Foundation offers grants to under recognized artists. To submit you must be at least 21 years of age and there is a $15 fee for entry. Grants of up to $10,000 are awarded to multiple artists dependent on yearly budget. In order to receive further information about deadlines for submission, visit the website and sign up for email notifications.
The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation supports representational artists emerging artists who demonstrate a commitment to a lifelong career in the arts. Grants are awarded on an ongoing basis in the amounts of $15,000 and $18,000 Canadian. For more information and to apply, visit the foundation website. Deadlines are rolling.