I unloaded a kiln this weekend with the anticipation of an addict. I think working in clay is kind of like having a gambling problem. When things go well, it’s really exciting. And when they go bad, it feels like someone just threatened to break your kneecaps.
I don't like to gamble. I don't like risk. Those who know me well know I like to have a plan for everything. So why ceramics where even if you follow all of the rules and stick to your plan every single time, sometimes, things just go wrong. I asked myself this question several times after finding that 2/3 of the work in my kiln had the terra sigilatta chipped off and will probably have to be thrown away.
Why ceramics? It was certainly not the medium that I should've stuck with in undergrad. I have never had the patience for it. I wasn’t really that good at it. I had started out in graphic design because my parents thought at least in that field I could make some money. It wasn’t a good fit. Professor’s tearing up your drawings and throwing them in the trash in front of the rest of the class etc. Way too competitive for an introvert like me. And then I signed up for my first ceramics class.
I remember graduate students would stop and comment on what I was working on. They asked questions and gave constructive feedback without belittling. Undergrads were encouraged to take classes alongside of graduate students and I was even able to work for my own small studio space. Ceramics had it’s own community!
The truth is, I could be making art out of any medium but I choose ceramics for the people. After several days of mourning my kilnload and asking myself why I work in clay, I received an e-mail from someone that I met a few weeks ago at Renegade Craft Fair in Austin. Don Madden's lovely blogpost at Fully Flummoxed reminds me why I work in clay. I do it so that I can keep meeting people like Don and his wife, Susan. There is just something about clay people that makes me get back out there in the studio and start rolling the dice again.