Thursday, March 8, 2012

shape and swirl

Your remembrances are like unto ashes, your bodies to bodies of clay. 

While I'm finally getting the hang of the enamels and copper, I've slacked on the ceramics end of things, feeling uninspired and having lost the touch that led to swanky coffee mugs and swirled bowls in the past. I needed to change things up and coming out of hibernation made me want to start fresh this year on the wheel. I've watched others do it, conjuring up graceful vessels from lumps of clay, and was too intimidated at first but I know it can't be that hard, right?

A quick crash course and a small bit of instruction, and my left foot is kicking the the crank that turns the wheel, and I brace my elbows on the edge and push my fingers down into the ball of clay, constantly dipping my hands back into the water to keep the clay moist and turning, smoothing out with quick flicks of my thumbs. It's like playing the drums the way the body has to utilize so many rhythmic movements at once, something so maddeningly simple to execute in theory or in basics, something incomprehensible when it comes to pure artistry.

On my second attempt I end up with a small bowl, more like a saucer with sides really, and subsequent efforts take different degrees of time to allow me to try different shapings, different ways of caressing shape with one hand and shoring up the sides with the other, curving the contours of my fingers to make the curve,keeping my elbows rested and perpendicular. I don't care about making great works right now, but the feeling of the shape forming within my palms, the sense of the ancientness of this form and technique, the elements of earth and water to be tempered later by fire, I feel euphoric lost in this process in ways I can't explain.



    Once we get damoclesed, I'll make some swords, and trade you for some bowls, the apocalypse just around the corner.

  2. just like with prayer it's all in the centering, a few hundred cylinders later you will be on yer way...

  3. Randal, aw yeah, we'll get medieval for sure. Can you make me a machete?

    so many spiritual metaphors resonate and make more sense when doing this process. It's kind of incredible.

  4. The Firing

    for Les Blakebrough and the memory of John Chappell

    by Gary Snyder

    Bitter blue fingers
    Winter nineteen sixty-three A.D.
    showa thirty-eight
    Over a low pine-covered splay of hills in Shiga
    West-south-west of the outlet of Lake Biwa
    Domura village set on sandy fans of the sweep
    and turn of a river
    Draining the rotten-granite hills up Shigaraki
    On a nineteen-fifty-seven Honda cycle model C
    Rode with some Yamanashi wine "St. Neige"
    Into the farmyard and the bellowing kiln.
    Les & John
    In ragged shirts and pants, dried slip
    Stuck to with pineneedle, pitch,
    dust, hair, woodchips;
    Sending the final slivers of yellowy pine
    Through peephole white blast glow
    No saggars tilting yet and segers bending
    neatly in a row--
    Even their beards caked up with mud & soot
    Firing for fourteen hours. How does she go.
    Porcelain & stoneware: cheese dish. twenty cups.
    Tokuri. vases. black chawan
    Crosslegged rest on the dirt eye cockt to smoke--

    The hands you layed on clay
    Kickwheeld, curling,
    creamed to the lip of nothing,
    And coaxt to a white dancing heat that day
    Will linger centuries in these towns and loams
    And speak to men or beasts
    When Japanese and English
    Are dead tongues.