The Importance Of Experimentation


So with the horrible winter weather finally making way for some milder temperatures both inside and outside the studio, work is starting to get underway in a more productive fashion.  Working in my little studio in the woods is an absolute joy at this time of year.  Rather than arriving at the door of the studio with several layers of jumpers and thermal undies, scarves and woolly hats, I walk through the woods accompanied by the chatter of songbirds and the woodpecker noisily tapping out his messages in the background.  The studio is opened up on all sides and the big wooden doors open out to let in the light and the air.  The whole atmosphere is completely different.  Breaks between throwing are a cup of coffee sitting outside under the oak’s canopy in the dappled light, feeling very lucky.  The whole scene is inspiring to my work.  Rather than, in the winter, where breaks are more of a dash through the wind and rain to the house to have lunch and then reluctantly return to the cold of the studio to attempt to remain productive with icicles hanging off my nose.  The truth is that the biting cold is simply not conducive to working outside with hands in cold water and, the older I get, the more difficult it is.  So this year’s project will be to insulate the studio in the hope that it will keep in a little more of the warmth provided by my little wood burner.  This new warmth, I am hoping, will provide me with a few extra months in the year where I can continue working.

And those extra months are really important.  In order for my work to continue to progress and develop it is vital to find time to experiment while continuing to produce the pieces that there is already a demand for.  Unfortunately this time experimenting does not pay the bills and so always feels a little self indulgent.  Without it, however, one is not able to discover all the new and exciting glazes that are to be found as well as pushing the clay to new limits to see what can be achieved.  Without this sense of excitement it can feel a little like treading water and while I love making my old favourites, and getting that sense of satisfaction that people enjoy my current work, I never set out to be a production potter.  I prefer to make a few regular items but to keep my work fluid and constantly evolving.  Perhaps this isn’t the most profitable way to work, but it is what keeps me interested and motivated.

So I feel extremely self indulgent to take time away from the wheel to play around with glaze ingredients and firing schedules and see what appears.  While my web site stock update on 1 July will contain lots of my usual work, my next update will hopefully show some of the fruits of my experimental labours.  I expect this to be towards the beginning of November, so watch this space.


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