New Tools for New Shapes April 11, 2011 14:39 4 Comments

One of our favourite ways of spending time with our friends is to have art parties. It's a great opportunity for indulging in experiments that we feel we don't have the time to try when we're busy with our daily chores and our regular pottery production. And it's a really awesome way to visit with friends. The act of being creative while visiting lends itself to conversation about our respective crafts, about our work practices and even into our philosophies of life. Last week we had our friends Tim and Chantal over for an art party. Pixie made bigos (Polish hunter's stew) for supper and Chantal brought the most addictive mint brownie cake that I've ever tasted. After we ate and had a few drinks we moved the party into the clay studio where we each played with a bit of clay and talked about various ideas we've been having lately. Tim and Chantal are glassblowers and for some time now we've been talking about doing collaborations of blown glass with glaze-fired pottery. As we shared these ideas and worked out the details of how we could go about making some of these things a fresh kiln load of bisque ware had cooled and was ready to be unloaded. The kiln was packed with new stamped bowls and plates and cups, but I had eyes for none of it. I pulled everything out, piling it all together on the shelf, just so I could get to the new tools I'd made for this idea that has been percolating for a little while. And what a perfect opportunity to be trying it out for the first time. What I'd made were three sets of flat stamps. Six hexagon stamps, six squares and eleven circles. The idea is to repeatedly stamp the same piece of clay with progressively smaller stamps to make a shallow dish. I have to admit that I didn't really know how well this idea was going to work. While talking to Tim about our personal creative processes I realised that I don't really get an idea of something I want to make and then set to figuring out how to make it. Instead I seem to be fascinated with designing processes whose result is something of a mystery to me. I think that this is what drives me creatively, the surprise that awaits me at the end of a new process. Once my curiosity is satisfied then I start adding to and elaborating on the process. "What would happen if I did this or this?" I don't know how much fun I was to visit with that night. Once I got those stamps into the clay the ideas just seemed to sweep me up and carry me away. I spent the whole night racing to catch up to them as I noticed new variations I could try. What ultimately ended up happening was that I was so excited by the results that I started to imagine other stamps I could make. In fact I now realise that this is the pattern I've been following all through my winter of plate production. I begin to create a line of plates and after I've made about a dozen or so an idea for altering the process seems irresistible and I end up making a different style of plate. After making a dozen or so of those plates a new idea tempts me into creating yet another style. Now as spring is beginning to dawn on ShprixieLand it's like I'm rubbing the winter out of my eyes and discovering all of these samplers of curious little plates that have grown up on the shelves around me.