[Clayart] the human body.

Linda White 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?

Linda White
LickHaven Pottery
Dushore PA

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!"
> 
> -Snail
> 
> 




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