Saturday, January 5, 2013
The Begging Bowl
I love the idea of getting up each day with an empty bowl and carrying it with me throughout my day and accepting with gratitude whatever I receive from those I meet and from the day itself. Imagine being grateful for whatever is placed in your bowl and being nourished by it.
I have had bowls on my mind for sometime now. When I make the effort, I make a very nice bowl, I have had some very good bowl making teachers. For me, a bowl is one of the most important objects I have in my house. They are everywhere and they hold everything. I am always reaching for a bowl to put something in. I also think, metaphorically, it has great significance for all of us. An empty bowl, a bowl full of nourishing food, a bowl handed down from a grandmother, a bowl made by a friend. It's an important object. The bowl in this photo is a slab bowl I made several years ago and raku fired. It has held shells from Maine, Hershey's dark chocolate kisses, raku beads, all sorts of treasures. Last year it held the wool Anna Branner sent me and sat in my studio nudging me to try weaving. And now look where that led me!
My hesitation with functional pottery is the decoration. I can make a great bowl, I can't find a surface decoration to suit me to save my life with my limitations of a gas kiln that I don't trust to go more than to ^6. And what clay to use..... I love using white clay in my studio, but for a bowl, dark clay rocks my world. Also functional glazes for ^6 that I like seem to enjoy a dark clay body. I have a couple of ^6 glazes that I like a lot, they are pretty reliable, also very plain. My thinking is that when the weather gets more agreeable to be out in my studio, I may do some bowl tests.
My other hesitation with this bowl plan is that there are a hundred million potters in NC and they all make nice bowls. What will I do with these bowls? Do I really want to put myself into the fray? I don't think I want to highly decorate and draw and decal and all that. I want a simple form, a good form, and a pretty glaze. But that, my people, is not going to set me apart and get me noticed. But do I really care about that. I got noticed, it did nothing for me. So maybe these bowls will be just for me, an exercise. Maybe I should approach this as a learning experience and not worry about the selling part. But I really would like to be able to make a living at a craft. It's all so irksome, this selling (as I keep repeating!)
Here is a plan that is roaming around in my head:
For the cold months of January and February I plan to catch up with much neglected friends, my calendar for January is almost full already. I am going to stay inside and get to know my loom. I have lots of yarns and a gift card from my pal Laura for even more yarn, thanks, Laura! I have an idea to make little cloths to go with my bowls. I got this cloth in the photo and I carry it around everywhere for my mug or my bowl of soup or my teapot. It's like a miniature placemat and I like the way it completes the bowl or the mug while it is sitting on a table.
When March gets here, we will have some warm days and I can get my wheel out and re introduce myself. I have an idea to make 100 bowls. I have no plan for what to do with them. That can come later. If I make them, they will find a place, I'm sure. I have not made 100 of anything at one time, ever. My attention span will last to only 12, then I can't stay on task. (I know... you production potters are laughing at this, but I have been distracted, ok?) So this will be a good discipline for me, and I have the head space for it right now. I am not distracted with too many ideas for new barns with found objects. I have "no mind" as the saying goes. For some reason, I feel like I need to get this out of my system before I can move forward. No idea why, but it's there, and I know how I am. Once a spark is there I have to deal with it or I can't get on with things.
I still have no idea how I want to sell my work this coming year. I have tried many venues, some have worked, some have not, some I have enjoyed, some I have hated. I do know what I don't want to be doing again and that's spending a lot of money on show fees. It's like putting stacks of money in my kiln and firing away.
Now that I have said it, I can move forward and do it. And, the best part is that YOU, my blogger friends will be there supporting my efforts and giving advise and consolation and support as always.
So thanks for that, thanks for reading for the past 1560 posts and stick around, I can use your objectivity!!