This is an email I sent to my great friend, sounding board, conscience, and fairy godpotter, Scott Cooper. He thought it should be a blog post, so who am I to argue? Batten down the hatches! Stormy weather approaches!
“Sheeze! That vacation harmony didn’t last too long!
I just had about the worst 24 hours in clay that I ever think I’ve experienced. So I’ve got this commission for some friends’ wedding and I had made the bowls before I left. Easy part done. Next up are 12 eleven inch dinner plates and 12 eight inch salad plates. Shouldn’t be too hard except for getting 12 that all fit reasonably together. Just a few extras and I should be good. Or so I thought….
Well, I started throwing a few plates kind of aiming at the project, but also sort of as warm up, hoping I might come in with some I could use but not necessarily planning on it. Well, I hate making plates as a rule, but I usually can do a pretty good job of it when I’m in the flow. So the first eight small ones were pretty much all over the place, with possibly 4 or 5 that could end up usable.
Well, that was the end of my (3 year) old batch of clay, and yesterday I started on my newer batch. I have to use a specific clay because the glazes they want look pretty different depending on what they’re on. So I open the first new box and discover that it feels much stiffer than I would want. It almost felt thixotropic like a porcelain. So I decide to use it anyway, because this new batch is basically all I’ve got access to.
Needless to say, stiff clay is no fun to center, much less make plates out of. So I struggle. In fact, somehow I got an air bubble in my first lump, and after about 4 minutes of poking and repoking holes in it I finally gave up on it being a plate, and turned it into a pitcher. That may be the only thing I made yesterday that actually survives….
So I buckle down and eventually get another eight plates thrown. Pushing that stiff clay was such a bear that my neck, back, thumb, and wrists were seriously messed up. But I thought some of the plates might end up decent. And maybe I just need some toughening up after all that down time. Well, it turns out that the bag I had was just improperly sealed, and the next bag I picked up felt much better (dumb ass!). But of course the damage was already done….
So that was yesterday. Nimrod that I am, I thought surely nothing else could go wrong. Guess again, Sherlock! The overnight super-dry air dried them out waaay beyond what I needed, and the lips on most of them curled into more of a pasta plate profile. Not what my friends are looking for, so not suitable for their project. But possibly still salvageable, I thought. Gee wiz, what an optimist!
So I commence cutting them off the bats, only to find that they are so stiff that the wire does crazy things to the bottom, ruins three and scars another three getting them off. Shit! Well, after some painful salvage trimming I have 2 ‘just okay’ plates and another 2 really messed up ones to show for all my pain. Not a good 24 hours….. I’m still waiting for my handle to set up before I assess the pitcher and breath a small sigh of relief, or officially mark this 24 hours as a day of mourning on all future calendars.
So once my wrists and thumb are feeling up to it I will start back doing something totally different with no pressure on it. It should have been so easy. But the fatal combination of my own stupidity and less than ideal conditions should have had me playing it much smarter. But that’s the flaw of stupidity: It never knows when to question things. What an amateur. What a maroon….
Well, at least I’m laughing at myself now, and I’ll take that over the near bawling I contemplated just moments ago. Thanks for lending your ethereal ear as always!
Wish me luck (good sense being out of the question),