[Clayart] the human body.
llwhite at epix.net
Sun Oct 30 20:19:21 EDT 2016
My last paid job was working as a reading specialist. One of the things I learned was that kids with reading difficulties often had only one way of dealing with a difficulty and if that didn't work, they gave up. My job was to teach them other ways of trying to solve a problem--multiple ways. Intelligence may be a function of flexibility of mind.
One of the things I love about working with clay is that it is never the same. Each lump of clay requires a different approach. It may not be extremely different, but it is always different to some extent. Finding new ways to do things--isn't that what makes it exciting?
On Oct 30, 2016, at 7:02 PM, Snail Scott wrote:
>> On Oct 30, 2016, at 12:14 PM, mel jacobson <melpots2 at visi.com> wrote:
>> ...if you want to fit your wheel, you will have to figure
>> it out. no instruction manual. one size does not fit anyone…
> A lot of my students want know ‘how to do' _____(fill in the blank)
> shape or idea, which tool to use and what exact steps to follow.
> Maybe because a lot of them are graphic design majors, and spend
> a lot of time learning software. Or not.
> I tell them that if what they want to accomplish is something with
> a long tradition of similar forms and methods, like a lot of classic
> functional foodware, then the tools that came in their ‘pottery tools’
> kit will serve pretty well, for as long as they are making things that
> suit the assumptions of the tool company. The tool people are only
> guessing what things you want to make, and how you are likely to
> want to make it. If you only use those tools, in the way the maker
> expected you to, you will likely end up with something pretty much
> as expected. That’s not always a bad thing. No need to re-invent the
> wheel with every new idea. There are giants in our past; by all means,
> go stand on their shoulders! But don’t stop thinking for yourself. It’s
> easy to let your tools tell you what to make (and how) without even
> realizing it. We steer away from shapes and techniques that our tools
> don’t facilitate, often quite unconsciously, instead of thinking of which
> tools might serve instead. Different tools lend themselves to different
> work. Different work calls for different tools.
> When we make art we are making things that have never been made
> before, ever, by anyone. Similar to other things, to be sure, but never
> exactly the same. Assuming that the same tools will get you where
> you want to go just because other people use them, and in a certain
> way, is missing an important facet of what it takes to create new work.
> Don’t let your tools be the boss of your work. Ideally, they become a
> partner in the process, but letting your work be dictated by the tools
> you've never questioned is just sad.
> For the last few years, I’ve had an assignment: Make a Tool, Find a Tool,
> Modify a Tool. Students have to come up with three new tools: a ‘made’
> tool (a bisque stamp, for instance, or something else from scratch), a
> ‘found’ tool (any object they come across: a pen cap, a rock, a sneaker
> sole, a cheese grater, whatever) and a modified tool (a notch cut in an
> old plastic card, a pointy handbag clasp cut from its flap, a button glued
> to a stick, etc.). A tool is whatever helps get the work made. Just because
> some company made a tool and stuck it in a package marked ‘ceramics
> tools’ doesn’t make it better. The tool that serves your goals is always
> the better tool.
> Some students are reluctant to change, especially at the wheel. Then
> one day someone will say, “Wow, this really hurts my back!’ or some
> such. They’re afraid to try another stool, or mess with the allotted
> setup. They feel conspicuous if they speak up (especially here in the
> Midwest, land of ‘just go along, then get passive-aggressive later’).
> Once I give a wheel some ’custom mods’, though, it’s cool, and the
> next thing, people are putting bricks underneath, swapping chairs
> from the other room, putting a cushion on the stool, and letting others
> try it too.
> I sometimes think I perceive an increasing willingness to just take
> the physical world as it is. Fewer people growing up with tool use
> and making do by building or fixing things themselves. Try that with
> a fancy expensive piece of electronics, you risk messing it up and
> voiding the warranty, and new cars seem designed to actively prevent
> user servicing. Granted, my current car is far more reliable than any
> I ever had before and hasn’t needed much work, but this seems to
> cultivate a mindset of ‘leave it alone’ that poisons people’s whole
> sense of agency over physical things. So, I’m just gonna say, “Get
> out there with that opposable thumb of yours and don’t let tools be
> the boss of you!"
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