Six months ago, I began a new ceramic sculpture. I had no idea where or how far it would take me.
I imagined a tall figurative piece with a hypnotic spinning wheel on top of its head and a fortune teller’s hand on its chest. So, I rolled out a large slab to fashion the body, and attached a folk-art-inspired head to it. Using a wooden stick, I whacked the daylights out of it to create a textured surface.
I used an old copier to make transfer images of a hypnotic swirl pattern and a fortune teller’s hand. Before images were heat-sealed onto the page, I stopped the copier mid-process, which left an iron oxide powder on the paper that could be transferred to the clay. After cutting out the images, I squeegeed the swirl pattern onto a disk, and the hand onto the front of the figure. I called my new sculpture Oracle.
I followed a trail of clay crumbs as different ceramic figures revealed themselves to me. One by one, I completed a series of nine ceramic sculptures, Soul Journeys.
When I’m working on a piece, I never know exactly what will happen. Wearing blinders isn’t always a good thing. If I focus too narrowly on what I think I want, I miss both terrible accidents and happy ones. So, I try to be open to the process.
“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.”
Of course, I’d just as soon miss the terrible accidents. Pieces cracking while drying in the studio. Cracking in the kiln when bisque firing. Cracking in the kiln when glaze firing. Glazes running and sticking to the kiln shelves, getting pinholes, or not behaving as they should. Even when everything turns out perfectly, unexpected disasters can ensue. A frisky squirrel knocking work to the ground, shattering it in a million pieces. Yes, that has happened.
Out of self-preservation, I avoid getting too hung up on the results. I say this while praying to the Kiln Gods and loading the kiln with 6 months of work. I realize that I’m really attached to to these silent creatures, because we have been intimate. Landmarks of a soul journey, the sculptures reflect my experience with different parts of myself and others.