Breathe …is there anything more important?


The Intention: Perfection or… Art and Control

One of my clay friends is always attempting to make the perfect pot. She frets and sands and frets and sands. All her pieces are so precise and made with such attention to detail; but then...they go into the kiln (pictured below), to be subjected to a trial-by-fire with temperatures as high as 2350 degrees. They come out with beautifully hardened glazes, vitrified clay bodies and many times a bit warped.

Gas Kiln

The bowl pictured below was perfectly round when I made it. This is how it came out of the kiln.


Is this not like life?  We start out with good intentions aiming at perfection. We want our lives to be just so and then our experiences affect us and we aren't perfect anymore; neither is life, but perhaps, like this bowl, we have more character.

I was giving my perfectionist friend a bad time about her attempts at creating perfect pots. She protested and said that this was the only thing in her life she had control of, so she was going to make her clay creations as perfect as possible. I had to give her credit for a good rationale and I immediately backed-off.

Isn't it ultimately the desire for control that makes us make art? However, the thing about firing clay pots, especially in a gas kiln,  is that when we fire them we give up control. What happens is either wonderful or... not. For me this uncertainty is part of intrigue.

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  1. I would eat out of that bowl

  2. A lot of people don’t blog because they want their blogs to be perfect. They want to have just the right words, just the right expression. I am wondering about the value of our perfectionist selves. I suppose there is a time when we might want everything to be perfect–but so much of the time it gets in the way of expressing all the imperfect parts of selves. (Love your bowl. It looks perfect to me.)

  3. Kathy, Thanks for your insightful comment. You remind me of an important aspect of the creative process. For me, there is always a gap between what my mind conceives and the results in the finished work. This has been something that has been frustrating for me. Many times I haven’t had the technical expertise to make my ideas into reality. The way I have found to deal with this is to not be too precise about my mind’s idea, and with clay, I let the clay just be clay. I sit back and watch what happens. And many times what happens is better than what I had imagined in the first place.

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