Carving has been the hallmark of my work for some years now. What began as mere marks to identify my lumpy beginner bisque fired pieces on a community shelf morphed into an all-consuming passion. I carved pieces within an inch of their lives. Cramped fingers, sore shoulders and strained eyes was a little price to pay for the satisfaction of making a well carved piece. I had found my voice in clay and I was going to pursue it and perfect it with every piece I made, or so I thought.
Little did I know that a chance encounter with a piece of pottery three years ago in a small gallery in Yingge, Taiwan would derail me from my perfectly laid out path. From the moment I saw it, this simple bowl sitting in the middle of a table decked out with lots of other pieces by various Japanese artists commanded my complete attention. I remember thinking that it was way over my budget and I couldn’t afford it. I recall walking away from it with a sinking feeling in my heart that if I didn’t get it now I would regret it later. A mile long walk and a serious mental debate later, I turned around with this quote echoing in my head: “We never regret our extravagances, we always regret our penny pinching.” Thanks to those wise words, this piece occupies a prime position in my living room and in my heart.
But was I prepared for the impact this piece and my trip to Taiwan were to have on my aesthetic? I guess not, because when I went back to my studio to make pots, the uninspired feeling that crept in as I began carving, puzzled me. I found myself looking at this piece over and over again. A longing to create that simple, rustic, organic surface took root in my heart. Unbeknownst to me, I had started journeying in a new direction! It was a big change but it felt right because I was inspired again. I was studying, experimenting and learning, making a whole lot of ugly pieces and a few good ones in the process. I found myself sneaking out of bed in the middle of the night to peek into my still hot kiln– sometimes burning my fingertips– because I couldn’t wait to look at the results.
I was once passionate about carving but my path seems to be changing. And while I might revisit carving in the future, for now, embracing this change and allowing the inner inspiration to be the guiding force of my creative path keeps me evolving as a potter.