Drinking it in

I’ve been reading a lot lately. Flipping through back issues of ceramics magazines, flicking through the web. Searching for pictures and textures and shapes. Trying to figure out How They Did That, and keeping an eye out for things I can use. What do I like about that handle, about that glaze, about that cup’s proportions. I’ve learned a few things about my artistic inclinations.

1. I like cute. I started off with Serious Utilitarian Artist designs, but they were either boring (and therefore not great sellers) or veered into cute territory of their own accord. When I started making the bug line, and had a table full of bees in love and pretty dragonflies, I tried to seriousify things by balancing them out with a few spiders and centipedes. You know what my first Bug buyer said, when she picked up the mug that had caught her eye? “Oh, what a cute spider!”

The cephalopots also strike people as cute, even though I was aiming for subtley creepy.

For Robot, I threw all notions of uncute out the window. I do cute. I have embraced the cute. It makes me happy, it makes customers happy. And anyways, I am apparently incapable of producing anything else.

2. I have problems with simplicity. I like the idea of simple. I want very much to make something quick and easy, that I can pump out as a “bread and butter” line and sell for cheaper than the rest.

But nothing I make is simple. It all needs fiddly details, or carving and slips and precise drying schedules, or twenty paintbrush changes and a squeeze bottle. I once had someone call my work minimalist, and I actually felt insulted. Surely nothing that takes so much time can be minimalist? But she was right. For all the stupidly complicated processes I manage to fall into, I do get an awfully simple-looking product at the end. So. In the long run, I can either simplify my technique[1], or embrace the ridiculously complex and turn into that glorious nutso who sells 60$ teacups because they’re just that fancy. We’ll see.

3. I like colour. All colours. Plain and subtle and black and white and eye-searingly bright. My preferred colour palette is decidedly bipolar.

4. I like shapes that like to be held. Big handles, swooshy curves. Shapes that nestle easily. Great big serving bowls? Pshaw. They’re a technical challenge, and you can charge a pretty penny for ’em, but I’m drawn to the things you can hold in a hand… teacups, mugs, small bowls. The little things that accompany us through our day. The favourite coffee cup and the just-right ice cream bowl.

[1] Decals? Stamps? Research is ongoing.

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