Looking Back To Move Forward

Since my last blog I have been reminiscing and looking at the journey I have been on in the last thirty years of playing with mud. I am constantly reminded of the first piece I ever made as the vase still sits on the dinner table in my parents’ home……. Its brown and reminds me of an elephant’s foot! It is quite coarse and cumbersome, I believe the term people use is rustic. Oh well I guess we all have to start somewhere. In the beginning I think my pieces got worse before they got any better which I presume is all part of the learning process. A few evening classes in, I wanted to make a couple of pendants inspired by African tribal symbols. Having been told that clay shrinks in the drying and firing process I made the pendants bigger than I needed to compensate for the shrinkage. Once fired I got a shock when they came back as I didn’t quite appreciate what a 10% shrinkage rate would look like. Today the “so called pendants” hang on my living room wall as wall plaques. Every time I walk pass and look at them I let out a little chuckle to myself.

As I am reminiscing I have decided that I will dedicate this blog to my favourite piece I have made so far. Funnily enough it lives in my bathroom on the window sill. I like things that are unique and its unlike anything I have ever made. It helps that it is green which is one of my favourite colours. The reason I like it is that it reminds me of a green foliage plant which is probably why I have it in the bathroom. The piece was made using a wall extruder. You put a lump of clay down the extruder gun which is a metal tube fixed to a wall that has a shaping disk in the bottom and by pulling on the handle the clay comes out of the end in the required shape. A bit like when icing comes out of an icing bag when decorating a cake but on a much bigger scale! In this case the shape was a hexagon. The shape was then cut into three pieces and sandwiched together using slip (liquid clay) to create the finished vase. It is not something I would sell as the finishing could be better, but I was only in my first year of evening classes at that point, so I had a lot to learn.

A number of pieces hold special memories for me. For example, I went to South Africa a few years ago to volunteer to help a charity deliver a community health programme in a township just outside of Cape Town. Whist out there we had the amazing opportunity to go on safari in our spare time. Our safari guide took us a bit close to a male elephant who was musking at the time and didn’t appreciate the disturbance. Raising his trunk, he turned and quickly charged at our party, although a big animal they can certainly move fast. I think a few of the people at the back may have been hit by the falling trunk but no one was seriously injured, thankfully. To remind myself of my trip to South Africa I created an elephant sculpture which I am very pleased with, that was finished using raku techniques, leaving a lovely and appropriate appearance on the piece.

For different reasons another piece holds special memories for me. About twenty years ago I was due to hold a solo exhibition of my work at The Dock Museum. I was struggling to make a very large bowl as my centre piece as the bowl would repeatedly crack in the drying process and was quickly becoming a frustrating piece to make. After about three or four attempts I had successfully achieved what I had envisaged and the bowl was placed in the kiln. Unfortunately, the kiln misfired and my piece was destroyed in the process. With the exhibition looming not only did I have to start making the piece again but also source another kiln within a very short timescale. Eventually everything came good in the end and the bowl took its place in the exhibition and at the preview event was sold to a local collector. Strangely I felt partially close to the bowl as we had been on this stressful journey together.

I have enjoyed this brief look at the past but now is the time to concentrate on my future journey as a business woman and make further memorable moments and pieces to be proud of.

My favourite piece

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