For my Ceramics 2 class this semester I intentionally signed up for the section taught by an instructor who focuses a lot on figurative sculpture. I want to explore and express the immediacy of what is going on in my life, but I am scared of it. Our first assignment has a completely open ending. I guess just writing that and seeing “open ending” gives me a place to start from. Yesterday, in class, I was feeling blocked. After many days of feeling full of inspiration class finally started and I couldn’t move.
The assignment is meant as a warm-up exercise and I was dead cold.
Instead of starting on my real assignment I spent some time learning to use the clay extruder. I think it’s going to make my ceramics life a lot better. It will help in saving my hands and wrists and might be a significant addition to my toolbox.
Discovering there was this extruder in the school studio the entire last semester of Ceramics 1, but never being informed of it or taught how to use it is a little perplexing, if not a bit irritating. But…at the same time I’m glad I didn’t know about it. I learned things the “hard” way. I learned how to do everything through hard work and determination and it got me more intimate with my clay.
It feels like life is that way sometimes. Doing things the hard way through blood, sweat and tears and then someone tells you about something that gives you the same result with, essentially, the flip of a switch.
I mean, seeing this extruder machine in the studio is an extremely concrete “in reality” sort of thing. I can see that it’s a lot easier to make coils or forms using this machine than it is to roll out coils tediously by hand. But what if someone tells me an easier way to do something I can’t see or touch?
I have to admit, I even looked at that extruder with skepticism. I didn’t want to deal with the anxiety of learning how to use it and, at first, I viewed it as a sort of “cheat.” After all, shouldn’t everything be extremely difficult in life?
This seems to be one of my switched wires in my brain. Why do I go around thinking nothing is worthwhile unless it is painful and difficult?
What if I can go about putting my creative ideas into reality through simpler means and enjoy the entire process? Is it then, somehow, not as good???
It’s a little crazy, really.
I need to get over this idea that enjoyment has to be counter-weighted by misery.
It’s just a LIE.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
The counter-weight of misery does NOT make joy any more safe.
And this brings me to the topic of Joy.
Joy is extremely risky, dangerous and downright chill-invoking without faith.
I might even believe that without faith there can be no joy at all.
This isn’t something I’ve thought about before writing this, but it just sort of dawned on me.
It’s all a part of letting-go and getting somewhere.
For me, it’s a part of getting unstuck. That’s what if feels like.
There’s enough aggression and violence in the world without me needing to add to it through the creative process of my life. Is it really needed?
What if I let the clay be soft and didn’t fight working with a clay that’s not workable yet? What if I took the steps to help the clay work for me and not power through by sheer force that is only going to break me and not lead to the greatest creative outcome anyway?
It’s back to breathing. Letting go, letting things be ok.
Making a beautiful life willing to be made.
I have come to this acceptance the hard way and I wonder what miracles are ahead.
What other amazing machine I didn’t know about before hangs right in front of me on the walls of the studio awaiting discovery?