Trapped in the Studio!

Yep, I was trapped in the studio.

Yesterday after working for quite some time in the studio (time slips away when I'm down there!), I realized I need a bathroom break. Fortunately, there isn't a bathroom in the studio or I'd never leave!

Luckily I looked up before opening the door (they are glass) and saw the family of deer hanging out in front of the porch.

Ooops, I was trapped!

The mama deer had been hurt, probably hit by a car, at some point. Her hindquarter was scarred with a crosshatch of large streaks and she limped. I had seen her right after the accident when it was a fairly fresh wound and she was holding her leg up, not letting it touch the ground. Her two little ones at that time still had their spots.

Now she is walking, albeit not as steadily as before the accident. It looks like she's probably in a bit of pain judging by the way she only touches the leg lightly on the ground when she moves. Imagine having to go through life with bones that weren't set properly. Ouch!

The two little ones are bigger but they still have a way to go before they'll rival mama in size.

I learned something new - deer eat birdseed. Greg (my husband) says they'll eat almost anything, but I was surprised to see one of the little ones feasting on some birdseed I had dumped out of a feeder because it got a little wet. The pile of seed kept him eating and kept me waiting.

I knew they usually didn't stay long in one place having watched them often in our back yard. This time the birdseed kept them around for much longer than I wanted. I know I could have tapped on the window or opened the door and they'd have taken off. I doubt it would have stopped them from coming back permanently.

However, even though I had to walk fast to get to the house once they finally left, I wouldn't interrupt their trek across the yard. I marvel at the adaptability of deer. Yes, they can be pesky and will eat anything I plant around the studio, even it it's not something they like! Yes, I've hit a deer while driving and it was not a pleasurable experience. But I love having them in the yard (ticks and all) and figure there were deer running around these woods long before there were houses and people so it's good to let them have free reign whenever possible.

Photos: The photos are not the deer I'm writing about today. The photo was taken a few days ago from my driveway. However, that is my studio down in the 'hollow.'


Ya gotta be humble...

...and you have to have thick skin.

You've probably been to a show of some sort where you didn't like something. A painting you thought your 2-year old nephew could have painted, a piece of pottery that had what you thought were gaudy colors, a play that was chocked full of bad acting, an off-key piano or singer... there's something out there you have judged harshly at some point.

Chances are you didn't hide your feelings and voiced them in some way. Curled lip, cutting comment, rolled eyes... or maybe just a low whisper to your companion.

With art beauty is in the eye of the creator and some beholders. However, regardless of how you might feel about the art or the artist, most put a part of their soul into whatever they create. Most are always slightly holding their breath on some level, hoping their creation will be loved or at least appreciated.

You might think it's the ugliest sound, painting or sculpture in the world while another thinks it is fabulous. Every artist lives not just to create, but also to have other appreciate their creation.

That cutting remark made in low tones to your neighbor, if heard by the artist, can negate every positive comment received that show. Intellectually we all know that our work is open to critic, and we're probably our own worst critics. But it can still hurt.

I once walked into a booth with a friend who made a quiet comment about how tacky the work of the artist was. I didn't particularly appreciate it either, so their quip brought a quick smile. I looked up over my friends shoulder right into the eyes of the artist.

I've never forgotten the quick wince of pain or hurt, then the cultivated shutter that he affected to mask how he felt. I felt so badly I almost bought something, but realized that would have been worse. It would have been salt in the wound to know he had to sell to someone who didn't like what they were buying.

However, when I looked at his brochure, I saw that he had been selling his works for quite some time and was fairly well known in the scheme of life. Someday I'll walk into someone's home and see one of his works on the wall and it will probably look great in the setting they've chosen.

Now I have my work on display and will be selling it. I have received many compliments and everyone in my family thinks it's the best in the world. But I know there will be some who will think it stinks. There will be some who look at it and think they can do better, and there will be some or maybe many who can do better! But these pieces of decorated clay are my babies, my creations and I have some of me tied up in every piece. I hope I never have to overhear a snide remark about my work, but I expect I will.

I'm hoping I'll develop thick skin... (truthfully, I'm really, really hoping I don't have to, but I think that falls under the category of dreaming!)

I am already humbled by those who like my work. I'm just glad there are those out there who do like it!


Mistakes are not always bad

While clay can be very forgiving in that you can smash a bad piece of wet clay back to its beginnings and start all over, it can also be a hard taskmaster.

Put too much weight in the wrong spot and everything under will collapse. That's actually how I started what I call my smash pots. I had a wonderful shape going and a design firmly in mind. I was so wrapped up in the design that I forgot that the clay had its own properties and 'mind.' About halfway through, the pot started to listen to gravity and it began slowly settling.

I usually know to give a piece some support but for some reason I must have been so single-minded that I neglected a basic and lost the shape.

My first inclination was to try to prop it up so I could continue, but as I did I saw that it wasn't structurally sound. There were weak spots and a few beginning tears that showed me it was not a good idea to try to recover the piece. I was frustrated (with myself) so I stopped the propping process and took a break. After all, the pot wasn't going anywhere.

After a bit of lunch, I came back in, looked at the pot across the room and liked it. It had a wonderful shape of its own making and thus began my smash pots.

Now I make them deliberately. Most times I let them take their own direction, sometimes I direct. Sometimes I end up completely smashing them and starting over.


Knowing when to quit

There are some pieces that just never seem to be right. I don’t have an easy time letting them go. I often add to my clay pieces, doing multi-media work. I’ll add beads, straw, yarn, glass or whatever I think needs to be used to complete an item.

Sometimes I add to a piece because it’s just not quite right. It doesn’t “feel” finished.

Sometimes I’ll re-glaze a piece two, three and even four times (that’s tops so far) trying to fix it.

Sometimes I just don’t know when to quit. A piece will come out of the kiln and it doesn’t make me happy. All I can see are the flaws. Sometimes I actually put a piece in the kiln that I’m already not happy with (sad, but true, I just can’t let go of something I’ve spent so much time on!).

However, there is a time when I need to just chuck it. I need to quit. There have been a few pieces that I played with and played with, let them sit for days or weeks or months, came back and played with some more. I’m finally learning to toss those pieces. They get a decent burial in the huge trashcan if they’ve been glazed, they go out in the yard to return to dust if they haven’t been fired.
I’m still working on this lesson



Patience is the number one lesson I am learning as a potter. It is not one of my strongest areas!

Waiting for the kiln to cool is truly a lesson in patience. Open it too soon and you stand a good chance of ruining the best work you've ever done... Crack the top to sneak a peek and hear the crack of the glaze as the cold air hits it... oops. Patience.

I've found that it's virtually impossible to see anything looking through the little peep hole, too. (That falls under the category of failed ingenuity!)

Patience is waiting for a piece to dry. Patience is getting ready to glaze and realizing you need to clean the pot first, and wait for it to dry.

Patience is having to grocery shop when you'd rather be creating.

I'm learning... so far it hasn't helped me much when it comes to waiting in lines or for the book I ordered to arrive. But I'm learning.