Thursday, June 10, 2010
I know I've mentioned this funny thing I'm on called "The Australian Ceramics Discussion List" before, and I know I've mentioned very funny, very wise potter Owen Rye before, but I can't help it. I live in the country and don't get out much, comments from the aforementioned sometimes make my day.
Recent discussions included a query about how to stop clay from warping. This is something that occurs quite a bit in my own work. Porcelain as an excellent "memory" and when thrown thinly and fired at high temperatures finds it's most comfortable position, often far from a perfect circle. I love this quality. When working on the wheel there is a tendency to arrogance, an uptight attitude regarding the amount of control you have over your materials. It's a funny thing that the wheel, this ancient, simple tool should encourage the modern potter to become obsessed with the aesthetics of industrialisation.
The obvious signs of the vagaries of making each piece individually, by hand are a natural part of handmade ware. The perfect circles and absolute uniformity of industrially produced wares are usually the effect of slip-cast ceramics made in a mold. To try and emulate this in the studio with the wheel is hubris and folly.
Here is what Owen Rye has to say about it.........
"I cannot say what causes clay memory - but my way of thinking is that most 'technical' questions are in reality questions about aesthetics - what is desirable and what is not. If imperfection is your aim, as it is mine, then 'memory' providing some distortion must be a good thing, regardless of how it happens. If white knuckle control (to quote Jack Troy) is your aim - then maybe you need to find materials that suit that. I prefer to find what the material wants and let it do that.
Sorry about the digression, no help in explaining clay memory - but a way around it. "