30 July 2012
The legs proved more tricky and frustrating than anticipated and, as we say, there were many tears before bedtime.
Slabbing a 450 x 500mm piece of clay and judging the right dryness to allow it to stand upright so you can turn it into a cylinder, and then getting four cylinders to stay upright while you get them connected, is not the easiest of things to do, even for experienced potters. So predictably, many of the students experienced some radical moments of frustration and crisis of confidence.
As I tutor I always lament the fact that adult students think, indeed expect, to get things right the first time and so feel very ‘stupid’ and embarrassed when they don’t. Kids don’t. They expect to have to learn things. But as adults we have years of experience and practice behind us so that a lot of what we do is proficient and skilled – we’re good at what we do at work and at play. Then along comes ‘clay’! Oh dear.
As Peter Lange says when he magically produces a beautiful bowl on the wheel, “It took 30 years 3 minutes to make that bowl”. And it’s so true, as in all art; ceramics is a lifetime apprenticeship. Every pot is a test pot, every sculpture a maquette for the next sculpture and the next. And that’s why we love it. No matter what the level of frustration or the depth of existential crisis at the time, one morning we wake up and think ‘Well what if I just tried …… ‘ And so, we continue once more to put our hands in clay.
Note the ‘floor plan’. This is a very important item because it acts as a template for replacing the feet in the correct position when reassembling the horse on the firebox.
The strips of clingwrap ensure the modules do not become compressed together during making. They are removed when the horse is disassembled for moving to the firebox.