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teabowls-michele-kinda long

updated tue 19 mar 02


artimater on mon 18 mar 02

Michele Wrote:

I've just visited your site and am inspired. Nobody has any business
telling you there's no talent in your fingers to make tea bowls. =
says that may not have the talent to make ....(4 letter word of your
choice). Yours are beautiful, and even in virtual reality they make me =
to touch them. That's my problem. My mother has been telling me "Don't
touch that" all my life. I'm 53 and I still hear that command whenever =
near something that begs for touch. Yours are screaming to be held.

Thank you thank you thank you...I touch everythingHEHEHE

The other reason I'm writing you is that I'm a newbie who has artists
sprinkled all over the family tree, but I always thought I didn't get =
any of
the Artsy DNA except in my writing. Even that DNA isn't magnificent. =
But I
started taking ceramics for a 2nd course this spring and was given the
assignment to copy a bas relief from history......and the rest is =
That's where my artsy DNA has apparently been hiding!

I've always thought that art is art is art...If you can write(and you =
can very well) you can play music, make pots, paint, dance and turn =
lights on and off every five seconds....You just change materials and =
tools....All it really takes is to g'head and DO it...Allow =
yourself....Then do it again....It gets a little better everytime...Or =
mebbe I should say you learn something every time...

I have copied EVERYTHING from your site to my computer for inspiration.
What I most wanted to see is which glazes highlight the carving best, =
you have found some beauties. I'd seen a few classical pieces that were
lightly carved, cameo-style, then covered as thickly as with majolica, =
you really have to look and stare and ponder out the carving. I didn't =
that. What I want is the effect you have achieved, that the glaze is
equally part of the beauty and not a cover-up to it. That the carving =
to do the looking, not a hide-and-seek game, and that the glaze says, =
we're so deep you must touch to feel all our dimensions. And the total
piece says, "You must lift, touch, turn, examine, explore and enjoy how
we're made."

Most of my glazes are a thousand years old...I only require =
transparency...They look extra yummy cause the pots are porcelain, which =
makes the colors brighter.....I like to get people to climb into a kerf =
I've cut and follow it around the pot to it's end....And maybe even find =
where I made some small mistake(proof I'm human)

I'm about 8 weeks into throwing, so I'm lucky to get anything that has =
thickness from top to bottom, something which is made more difficult by =
fact that the center changes its position inch by inch. Like I said,
newbie. I'm no competition to you and may never come to your level, =
I'm 53 and will always be "just a hobbyist". But I aspire to create
beautiful things that match the visions in my head, so I hope you can =
a couple of questions about your work so I can get an idea how to =

I can't pick up your work, so I can't tell exactly how deeply you carve.
I've been making the walls of my things fairly thick to allow the =
to remain when I carve as deeply as I wish. I have not handled (or even
seen, I think) other tea bowls, so I can't tell by looking at the rims =
your photos if you make yours thicker to allow for carving or not. I =
down the edges of pictures to see how deeply the cuts are visually, and
yours are not deeper than mine. Do you find carving deeply reduces wall
strength or increases breakage during firing?

Once again the answer is just do it....The more you do the better you =
get....When I throw I always wish I could make them thinner...I pester =
them till they scream...Of course I get them to that point faster than I =
used too....Then when I carve I always think, "I wish these were thicker =
so I could carve them deeper....Alot of open forms are easy to carve to =
translucency...As long as there is a layer of clay molecules left it =
will hold together....As for reduced strength...I never saw the pot that =
could not be broke...I don't use mine to hammer nails, but they seem to =
hold up to "normal usage"....They are at their most fragile when bone =

I'm carving ferns and flowers much as the ancient Persians did, and I'm
thinking in a couple of cases to simply cut the background away under =
rim and bring the design up to the rim in 3 or 4 places only to support =
rim around the thing and give it a "top". Not a teabowl, obviously. Do =
use some kind of a form or something to support the work from inside =
you're carving? Do you find the greenware needs more support than you =
give with your hands?

If they are really wet they bend and not break....I try to support the =
inside with my fingers...I can feel the blade pass by them....The skin =
of the clay is drier and harder than the surface so the tool, with =
practice, can be made to cut right up to that drier skin and not =

How thick are you making the walls of these taller beautiful (gorgeous,
seductively Touch-Me) pieces? Is there anything I should know before
starting to carve into the shoulders of my 9 1/2" tall vase?

Forms that you can't get your hand in are a little trickier....It is =
much easier to cut through....Often though all is not lost even =
then....I use porcelain and with a little spit and rubbing it is =
possible to replace your divots...Porcelain can be reflowed with enough =
Maybe the best advice I can give you in your drive to do my pots =
with your hands is; don't hesitate, decide what you are going to do and =
then do it hard and fast...Hesitation shows on the final product(The =
same might be said for throwing)....After you've carved, the real secret =
part is a 3m scrubby applied when they are a little past leather =
hard...It knocks off the burrs and smooths the lines and gives you that =
"carved perfect" look....
Picasso said it's OK to copy other artists but it's pathetic to =
copy yourself....What he didn't say is that if you copy someone else it =
will never be mistaken for the original....That is the nature of =
art....You can try your damndest to make my pots and you should be happy =
to know that you will only suceed in making your own

I wish you weren't so far away. I want desperately to turn some of your
pieces over in my hands and examine them, but you're West Coast and I'm =
Coast (Miami) and my arms just aren't that long! I hope you can take a =
moments to help me learn from your experience.

By the way, I was a gently-raised, naive, prissy/prudish young woman =
writing talent. I have since come to greatly appreciate someone who =
things on paper the way you do! I studied to teach English, and it =
there that I learned such appreciation. It was from life itself. The
energy of life is in your writing. You're not on my kill filter. You =
a very POW way of saying things.

Some people can't handle a difference of opinion, never mind a forceful,
made-up-my-mind-before-you-came-here approach. It takes all kinds. =
who chastise you probably aren't so much against you as they are fearful =
frightening away those folks who wouldn't stay on a list where their =
are "jimmied" every time they come to read. Or they are afraid of the =
forceful things in life themselves. I started learning Karate at 51 =
of age. Force is to be appreciated when done well.

Anymore, people seldom get really nasty with me on CLAYART ...and back =
in the times when they did, I always tried to REALLY deserve itHEHEHE

You do well on paper and in clay. Be well. Thanks for any help you can
find time to give me!

Michele Williams
Rank Newbie

I doubt you could be a "rank newbie" at anything....Mebbe a "sage in =
camoflouge"?...I really enjoyed your post. Thinking of what to write you =
clears my conceptions of my own work so you did me good whether or not I =
was able to help you....Everything I told you you would have found out =
for yourself....You got the bug now you just gotta DO it...
"I only indulge when I've seen a snake, so I keep a supply of =
indulgences and snakes handy"

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