|Hi, I'm Julie ... artist, photographer, potter, etc. I am so happy you are here! I consider this blog my creative journal where I can share my recent work, ideas and dreams, and lots of little details about my life. Please make yourself at home. Whether you are a bride-to-be, a photographer, or just a visitor, I hope you will find inspiration here and even become a friend.|
Here is a little something you may or may not know about me. I am a potter. I have been playing in the mud for many years now, but this the first time I have ever claimed myself as a real potter.
I actually started my journey in ceramic arts when I was a freshman in college. I intended to make it my major until I hit a wall. I wasn't growing as an artist, my work wasn't interesting to me anymore, and I had lost patience with the process. It was uncomfortable sitting at the potters wheel feeling impatient. I wanted to be productive. I put unnecessary pressure on myself to make things bigger, taller, and faster. At the time I didn't understand why I wasn't happy with my work. But I get it now … pottery just doesn't work that way.
So I completely gave it up. I left the potters wheel and never intended to look back. I was happy to find other creative mediums that fit my personality better (enter acting & photography). It wasn't until the spring of 2009 that I held a lump of clay in my hands again. I was at a very different place in my life … seven years changes a lot. But I knew I had to try pottery again and so I signed up for a class. There was so much anxiety for me.
As it turned out … once you learn to throw pottery you don't really lose the skill. I was a little rusty at first, but it was, in fact, much like that old bicycle adage. You never forget. Sitting at the wheel again, feeling warm water on soft clay, using my muscles, the centering, the pulling … it all came back and I felt like I was home. In the almost two years that I have been back at it … I could say that I have learned so much about the craft of pottery. But I have really learned most about myself. I think that's what pottery is all about. And that is why I am finally comfortable now calling myself a potter.
Today I'd like to share a few images from the pottery studio … with some little bits of inspiration. These are lessons learned while playing in the mud. I find that they are totally applicable as metaphors for life ...
A clean wheel and organized tools are a good way to start. Sometimes I stare at the wheel head and feel intimidated. Intimidation comes from fear of failure. I stare it in the face and go forward. After all, its just mud.
I love little round lumps of clay. The potential is exciting ... but I have to get a vision first. Vigor without direction can get ugly.
Centering the clay on the wheel is perhaps the most challenging and most important element of wheel throwing. An experienced potter makes this process look so easy, but its so much harder than it looks. It takes every muscle in your body and a lot of focus to get it right.
Its easy to get discouraged when a piece isn't centering easily. I find that its worse when I'm distracted or anxious about something. Also, I have found that mid-way through the process the clay can get off center during pulling. I used to call it quits at that point. But I have learned not to give up when things get a little rocky. A pot can be re-centered with patience and care.
I used to think that the bigger the piece the better the potter. But that is not true. It takes just as much skill to make a small vase as it does a large one. There is something very humble about the craft of pottery: mud from the earth made into a beautiful vessel. It is a peaceful art that requires its artist to be steady, focused, balanced, and patient. I love what pottery is teaching me ... and what being a potter means in my heart.
I have been spending a lot of time in the pottery studio lately. I am making flower vases that will be used on the tables of our wedding reception. It is a lot of work ... but it is definitely a labor of love. I have wavered on the thought of posting a photo of some of the finished pieces and I have decided to save those for after the wedding. Until then ... here is a little sneak peak at the stamps that I made. These are used on every piece. The little round one is actually my new signature stamp with my new initials ... they will be J.R.S. Its hard to make sense of it backwards ... but the letters are all there.