Today I am sitting here patiently waiting for my ceramic jewelry pieces to finish firing in the kiln… okay, so maybe I am not really sitting here patiently. I have to admit I am obsessed with walking over to the kiln, checking the temperature and looking through the side wall peep hole to see if my pyrometric cone has slumped over. This brings to mind a saying my mother used to tell me whilst growing up: “A watched pot never boils” and so it seems that this is more than true, especially in the case of creating ceramic jewelry.
My usual medium of choice would be polymer clay, however after getting a wild notion to use my kiln for other than my usual sporadic glass fusing moments I decided to give ceramics a try. I won’t lie; at first handling ceramic clay was a bit, well, on the slimy side for a moment and certainly not pliable like polymer clay. It took a bit of playing around with this new medium before I actually decided to make something from it. Sitting at my studio desk I looked at all the clay tools laid out in front of me, it was as if they were taunting me with an artistic malice that only a craft person can understand. I picked up palette knife and started to create a thin band of pottery clay. Pottery clay isn’t as easy to cut or slice through as one would think, and my first attempt was not what I had pictured in my mind. What normally would have been a perfect form cut in polymer clay turned out to be a snagged and not so straight attempt. I wadded up my little mess and started over, this time being sure to keep the blade of that palette knife somewhat wet with water. Presto! A smooth, straight and every thin strip appeared before my eyes! The palette knife and I had a new understanding and respect for each other, I realized that what that palette knife was trying to tell me is that pottery clay is in no way to be treated like polymer clay. With this new respect I had found not only a new and interesting medium, but quite possibly my new favorite medium of choice. I have to be honest; I think much of the allure is that unlike polymer clay you have to wait to “SEE” the outcome of ceramic pieces. This is time consuming process, taking as much as up to 14 hours from start to finish in the kiln. I strongly advise that this is not for those who are impossibly impatient, as the suspense will kill you or at best, when you just can’t handle anymore and open the kiln and risk ruining the pieces you so lovingly created.
Now that the pottery clay and I had spent some good quality time together there was a special bond that formed, a mutual understanding of what this material and my acceptance of its different, yet unique texture could create there was no holding back. I began creating pieces of clay in the shape of hearts, flowers and whatever else came to mind. I was truly enjoying working with this wonderful clay and before I knew it my creativity sparked to new levels! You see, I had been in a creative rut for a while, I hate to admit this but as an artist I got so involved with creating treasuries, trying to land the front page of Etsy and the endless promoting of my treasuries as well as those of my team mates that creating art took a back burner for a very long time. You see, discovering this new medium brought back what I had been missing for so long, the desire to create something beautiful and from the heart.
I bet you are wondering where I am going with all of this, my hope is to help other artists who are in a creative rut to spark a new interest and keep creating. You see, it’s so important to try new things, whether you work with glass, wire, paper or even edibles. The thing is we all benefit from learning new things, and you never know what a new medium can teach you about your old one.
In closing, I have a date with some pottery clay while waiting ever so patiently on my kiln to finish my next round of jewelry creations.