Category Archives: thoughts

Words of wisdom for artists and other creatives

Here’s a little gem I found going through the old posts from the Red Deer College’sArt Blog
The Incomplete Manifesto for Growth:

Some of my favorites include 
4) Love your experiments.
6) Capture accidents.
34) Make mistakes faster
26) Don’t enter awards competitions – ‘Just dont. It’s not good for you’
Check it out for a goldmine of wisdom and sanity.

Thinking Creatively

Yesterday I read an interesting article on how to think like Leonardo da Vinci. It really resonated with me and got me thinking about how I could apply it to my pottery.

(I wonder if da Vinci was a potter…. he certainly tried about everything else….. )
I especially liked the points about choosing a theme and observing things in terms of that theme for a day. Also examining your beliefs, seeing if there are any that you haven’t actually verified through experience. Then looking for two or three other possible points of view. 
I’ve found in pottery that what works for one person often doesn’t for another, so taking someone’s word for it on what is possible or not isn’t always accurate. I know a lot of people who throw without a sponge. This just doesn’t work for me for whatever reason. Some people throw wet, some throw dry, I kinda fall in between, tending toward dry.
So just don’t forget to keep experimenting!  That’s what makes it fun anyways, and that’s why we do this, right?
The full article is here:

Back to work!

It’s been a while.

It was 7 weeks last Friday since the accident put me out of the studio. Countless doctor visits, pills, hot soaks, and ice packs later I’m slowly approaching functional.
I finally made it back to the studio yesterday to see what I could do. I’d signed up for a class that starts this week, and wanted to find out if I could do it, or have to cancel. I’m happy to report that I was able to handle the 25# block of clay, wedge, center and throw a couple 2# ‘test pots’, a bottle and a vase form. Today I’m a bit sore, but no worse than general pottery soreness from not throwing for two months on top of the lingering soreness, if that makes any sense.  I’m hoping the extra activity at this point helps work the knots and cramps out.
It’s also been 3 months for the Brian Fields Pottery blog.
I’ve had nearly 400 unique visitors from 20 countries and 42 states. I have to say, I’m happliy surprized. 

Arts in Education

As a followup to my post a while back ‘But what’s it good for?’ the Colorado Council on the Arts has recently put out a study on the importance of the arts in education. The arts being under attack in public schools is hardly a new thing, but I had no idea it was so bad in Colorado, having been cut from $1.2 million in 2002 to $200,000 in 2004.

And ironically, at the same time this is going on, employers are asking for more creative, innovative workers…

There’s also a great resource at Keep Arts in Schools.

As we go through these tough economic times, we need to remember the importance of the arts to our children who will take us into the future.

Getting back on track

It’s been a week tomorrow since the big wreck, and I’ve been at a bit of a loss as to what to post. It’s pretty clear that I won’t be back in the studio any time soon. One of the more painful injuries is a very bruised, very sore sternum. I don’t even like to think about trying to wedge or center clay.

I do have some pieces from my failed attempt to re-familiarize myself with the old #112 claybody that are coming through the bisque firings at the center, so I’ll be able to glaze them soon. I did take the remainder and wedged it up on the tables and sprayed it down. Hopefully it got a good dose of microbes to help it age. It should be good and ready by the time I’m ready for it again.

I never got a chance to say anything in all last weeks excitement, but I’d thrown in the towel, raised the white flag and went back to my old familiar white stoneware. I’d been trying and trying to get the 112 to work for me, and was just being frustrated. My clay time is precious to me, and I just decided I didn’t want to spend my fun time being frustrated and pissed. I threw a 12″ vase on the first try.

I’m also spending some time going through old notes I’ve collected, ideas, sketches, etc. (when I’m not sleeping… I’m doing a LOT of sleeping). Maybe I can get them more organized and possibly share some. And there’s been some interest in more details of the naked raku and aluminum foil saggar techniques, so I hope to post more stuff about all that too.

The blog has been up for a little over a month now and I’m having a lot of fun with it. I’m enjoying the community, and have made new acquaintances from around the world.

Crunch time

So Friday after work I came home and went back out to get gas for the lawnmower to do some yard work this weekend.

I’d usually have just went Saturday morning, but the gas stations all over the area were raising their prices to outrageous levels in a panic over what hurricane Ike might do to Houston.

But I went Friday night.

And I normally would have turned right to go to the closer independent gas station that’s usually cheaper than the one by the highway exit. But I’d just driven past that station and it had the highest price of ANY of the 8-10 places I drive past on the way home.

So I turned left.

Halfway there, a Ford pickup truck (F150 or bigger) in the oncoming lane swerved directly into my lane. Accounts vary as to whether he was swerving to avoid rear-ending someone in front of him, or simply passing in a no passing zone. Regardless, all witnesses put him clearly in the wrong. I swerved to the right to the side of the road/ditch, as they teach you way back in driver’s education, but so did he, and we hit head-on.

Looking at all the carnage, it’s amazing, but I’m mostly ok. After a trip to the hospital on the body board, cognative tests, blood tests, and a CT scan I ‘walked away’ from this.

I feel like I went 16 rounds with Mike Tyson, but no broken bones, no internal organ injuries. Just some major bruising and muscle aches that I’m sure I’m just beginning to experience. Actually found a big one last night on my left hip from the seat belt, to go with the big one on my left shoulder.

Moral of the story: Seat belts and airbags save lives. Plain and simple. Being a nice day, my driver’s window was down. The seatbelt kept me IN the car, and the airbags saved my life. The first responders were amazed I was in as good of shape as I was. These people deal with this every day, and it really shows on their faces when they can take someone out alive from something like this.

Couldn’t help putting this one in…. When my wife went to clean out the car, she found a bisque pot that I had in the trunk. Intact.

Those Toyota engineers really know what they’re doing.

Odds and Ends

It was a non-typical week here, since Hanna’s impending visit shifted everyone’s priorities, especially with her big brother Ike close behind.

I spent time preparing the yard, mowing, bringing things inside, while my wife shopped, cleaned, and organized and restocked the hurricane kits. She did an outstanding job.

Hanna is now passing to the east of us, giving us some much needed rain and some wind. And Ike looks like he’s headed for the Gulf. I just really don’t know what they’re going to do with another major storm down there so soon after Gustav.

Overall, not much time for actual claywork – priorities… It does get me thinking about the whole new level of readiness involved if I had my own studio, at the house or otherwise.

Clay challenge pt.2

Deborah Woods had a good idea regarding my recent clay challenges, thinking it could be the clay hadn’t aged sufficiently yet.
I hadn’t considered the aging factor. But now that I think of it, it could be contributing to the problem. The clay I got was ‘fresh off the truck’, so it hasn’t really aged. However, so is the white stoneware I’ve been using, as well as all the other clay available at the center, so there’s some sort of baseline usability there that the buff clay doesn’t seem to have.

The instructor that used that clay also had multiple bags in various states of age, with trimmings and reclaim constantly being wedged in, so that probably improved things a lot. And as I mentioned, he throws very dry. The first thing I think I’m going to try is cutting way back on the water.

For me, an idea clay would be serviceable ‘off the truck’ and any improvement with age would be a bonus… That probably isn’t very realistic, and it make sense to age your clay, I’m just not in a situation where I can age clay right now.

Potters from ‘across the pond’

Just thought I’d mention some potters I’ve been following ‘across the pond’.

There’s Alan from Argyll’s blog and companion website -beautiful domestic ware, interspersed with gorgeous views of the Scottish countryside.

Paul the Potter – Barrington, Sommerset, UK.

Douglas Fitch’s A Devonshire Pottery, Devon, UK

Hannah McAndrew – more beautiful slipware, located in SW Scotland.

Check them out! They make some great work.