Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It Takes As Long As It Takes

Are you interested in the process?

This is a mid-carving pic taken January 7th. Carving a piece like this takes perhaps four to six hours spread over a day or two. After carving, it has to dry. I tend to let things dry quickly (quickly meaning that I don't cover things so depending on the humidity level, it takes anywhere from two days to two weeks), though things sit on my shelves for a long time waiting to be bisque fired. Since I don't like to mix my work in with the general studio stuff, I wait until I can fill a kiln with my own work. That can take several weeks, so really drying time isn't a very big factor.

This has been bisque fired and has had an application of iron oxide. I took this picture on February 17th, though the piece had probably had been sitting around my space for awhile after being bisque fired. (I'm lazy and will glaze easier stuff first, or I'll get a piece and realize I don't know how I want to glaze it and then will have to make several test tiles which can take weeks.)

Finally it was time to glaze it.

These are photos from March 6. I keep records while glazing, though they're often maddeningly incomplete. On this record, for example, I forgot to write down what glaze I used on the teeth. When I do this, I can usually make an educated guess, but I'm not always right. (After I reached this stage, the piece sat for a couple of weeks because I got hung up on what glaze I wanted to put on the outermost edge. I finally decided and finished it because I had a buttload of other work that I wanted to fire.)

Again, I don't like for my work to mix in with the general studio work. I'm not trying to be snobbish, but I will cop to being a control freak. If something goes wrong in the firing, I want to know that it was my fault and not the fault of whomever loaded the kiln.

The final firing was on Saturday, March 20th, and I took this picture after unloading the kiln the next day. So that's not bad; only about three and a half months for a finished piece.

Here's a funny thing: I don't consider myself to be a very patient person and so you'd think that waiting fourteen weeks for a finished piece would kill me. But actually it doesn't. I've learned that clay has its own timeline and I don't really have much say in the matter. Oh, I could rush things along, but why? I could force dry things and try to simplify my glazing techniques, but why? I could toss my stuff in the mix with the general studio stuff and it might shave a couple of weeks off the time it takes me to get a finished product, but I don't do that because it might mean having a few more pieces marred by other people's mistakes. That's not worth it to me.

I guess that clay is one place in my life where I'm not searching to maximize my use of time or to streamline my efforts to make them more efficient. I mean, art takes as long as it takes. It takes time in increments of hours or days or weeks or lifetimes, no?

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