Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Insert Tab A into Slot B Syndrome…

Lately, I’ve been working on something a bit different to what I usually do.


For my last project I used bone china, I slip-cast, I used decals and intricate cutting, those plates were so hard to make I needed to make two for every one that looked great, and the surfaces had to be perfect.


I think (like a lot of creative people I’m sure) that every project has a natural mental life-span. At some point you get sick and tired of making the same thing again, even if people still like it. You need to make something new – not just something that looks different, but that uses different processes and materials too.


For this project I’m using a good, solid, groggy stoneware, I’m hand building, there will likely be no decals (but I’m not sure yet, I really love those decals), there are deliberately imperfect surfaces. They’re not as hard to make, but it will be just as hard to get them through the firings without warping or splitting – I am loath to make things easy for myself.


It doesn’t mean I’m not proud of the work I have done before, or that I don’t like it, but when something becomes a chore to make you no longer feel creative, and the workshop starts to feel more like a factory. If the washing up looks more and more attractive and procrastination rules supreme, you may have ‘Insert tab A into slot B syndrome’.


I’m not saying that I won’t ever use casting slip again, or that there isn’t a perfect surface in my future, I just needed a break – call it a holiday I’ll be taking for the foreseeable.

It’s amazing that that’s all it takes to feel creative again. I want to be in the workshop, I want to make things again - it’s frustrating that I have to go to work and I won’t get back in the workshop until Saturday.

Take my advice – if you find yourself with ‘Insert tab A into slot B syndrome’, stop what you’re supposed to be making, pack it away out of sight, and start something new. Totally new. Use different materials, different techniques - get some books from your library and learn a new skill you can incorporate. Experiment. Anything to break that cycle and get you out of that creative rut!

Never mind ‘slot B’, get rid of ‘tab A’ altogether and start from scratch.


Monday, 10 January 2011

Ceramicy business…


I’ve been spending a lot of time in the workshop lately, because I’ve been accepted for York Open Studios! Open Studios is a country-wide initiative where selected makers open their studios for a couple of weekends in April, allowing people to see where the work is made, meet the artist and possibly buy work direct. Some of the plates above will eventually look like this:


But I am also working on some exciting (I think!) new designs for the event.

If you happen to be in or around York on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 8th, 9th, 10th April, please stop by to say hello! There will be lots of work to see (and workshops to nosy around) all over York on those two weekends – ceramics, textiles, wood, jewellery, sculpture, painting, drawing, mixed media…… Pretty much everything handmade in an arty fashion.


It’s always very relaxed, with no pressure to buy, and as a bonus it’s a great chance to meet the artists you have always admired and see their work outside of a gallery setting.

This will be the first time I will be participating so it’s a little bit scary and I’ll miss visiting all the artists but it’ll be a great experience.

Right, got to go fill the kiln again – April is only round the corner!