Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Waves by Linda Starr
8" x 4" x 2.5"

I created Waves about two months ago. It's another one of those pieces which spontaneously came to me. It's a rather versatile piece. It can be used as a paper weight, a business card holder, a note holder, or just something pleasant to look at. (Notice I left out bill holder, we don't want to talk about those). This was one of those pieces in the disaster firing, so I'm only showing you the piece as greenware. Guess I'll have to make another one.

I find myself in a state of transition right now, so I've been on a bit of a clay sabbatical. But I have been doing a lot of thinking. You might recall I decided not to go back to my previous classroom studio, but I've decided not to attend the other college either. The fuel cost and the time element are limiting factors right now, but I also find a classroom setting doesn't fit well with my style of working with clay.

This evening I was reviewing the work I did over the past fifteen weeks. I could easily count 45 different forms I made during that time. I'd say ninety-five percent of the ideas were conceived and constructed when I was alone. I find when I am working alone is when I am most creative and productive. I see myself slowly developing a rhythm of working with clay. For now I can divide the rhythm into four categories: the alone/thinking/cogitating time, the working time, the research time, and the networking/collaborating time. Some of the four overlap, like the thinking and working and the collaborating and research, but they are also separate.

I've noticed there are definite peaks and valleys or ebb and flows in my work, much like the waves of the ocean. As the wave goes up I have just thought of a new idea. When the wave reaches the top I have completed the piece. When the wave is rolling down I am reflecting on the piece on how I might change it, perhaps glaze it differently, but I am also anxious to work on a new piece or new idea - anxious to ride the wave up again. There are also the times when I am thinking or reflecting and not working at all, when the waves are flat as they reach into the shore and roll back out again.

I think when the waves are flat that's my recharge time and that's where I am right now. With the hot weather I have many more garden duties so that also limits my time with clay. I found when I write down how I am feeling, it somehow de-clutters my brain and I am free to create in clay again. So look for some waves of clay coming along in the future.


  1. I like the idea of a rhythm of work, you have described it really well.

    Preparing clay, making the object, drying, glazing, gathering and splitting wood, firing, cleaning up, and starting again, all has a natural rhythm which I basically enjoy and aim for. I rarely manage the full cycle without life crowding in with other things that demand to be done, be it getting all the paperwork done for the financial year (still to do), fixing a rotten window frame (also still to do), or attending meetings.

    Having a simple life has a lot to commend it (and is worth striving for). On balance I find creativity to be a very private and solitary thing. I found I could never paint with people around me, but I am far better in that regard with some parts of the pottery process. For the most part I don't mind having people around when I am throwing on the wheel, but I would hate to have people around when I am glazing. I also tend to be not all that social when firing the kiln. I know everyone else seem to be having a good old party atmosphere going when firing, but I find that I need to give my full attention to the process. There are one or two people that I can fire with, and appreciate having around, but I usually do most of the firing myself. Laura is a big help, mostly behind the scenes, when we are firing, and it would be much more difficult without her.

  2. I love the butterfly, it’s my birthday today and my daughter has sent me a lovely bundle of butterfly postcards. What you say about your creative routine is very interesting and I think it takes quite a long time to get to the point you are at. I have worried about my lack of output ever since I gave up making domestic pottery but then a very wise friend said to me; don’t. She said (my) ruminating was part of the creative process, now I am less anxious about the blank spaces between pots and realise they really are taken up with thinking about the next pots and are not blank. My studio practice is utter solitude now which I rebelled against for the first year or so, now I am fine with it, sometimes I think I would like to go back to college but then I think not, it is validation I would be looking for as I would be too self-centered to be taught anything helpful! So there I am; receptive vessel and the lidded pot all in one. Which are you, or are you both?

  3. hope your recharging works out well, love the dragonfly and the butterfly bush... sofia got one for her mom for her b'day but not sure if it's the same variety

  4. I love how you go full circle with your posts - waves - ebbs and flows...

    I think you described me to a "t" My cycle of work definitely has different periods of activity.

    I'm in the ebb myself - the problem for me is that sometimes I can get stuck if I don't make an effort to do something, anything clay related even after a particularly productive time period.

  5. Hi Peter, thanks, I find I am unable to concentrate on what I am doing if I have people around. Once I am finished, then I can talk about the process or discuss the form or chit chat, but not while I am working. I assume as time goes by I will be able to work with others around, but perhaps not. I find the solitude necessary especially, like you, with glazing I may miss a spot or forget what I had intended for the piece if I am distracted. Lately household duties have gotten in the way, but I plan to change that.

    Hi Kitty, Happy Birthday, so you are a twin - I am too, my birthday is in a couple of weeks. What a wonderful present to receive the butterfly postcards. I have always been attracted to butterflies and have a couple of antique butterfly postcards I have collected over the years. Perhaps that's why I'm not going back to school, I am too self centered to be taught anything - I want to do it myself. One of my classmates tried to show me something on one of my pots and I grabbed it and said don't touch my work - here show me on another piece of clay. I think I am both - a receptive vessel and a lidded pot - I probably appear to others as a lidded pot, but I am actually receiving but not in the manner they might wish, but after I have time to think about it. What a great analogy - thanks and have a wonderful birthday.

    Hi Jim, thanks I think I am just about recharged. I just noticed I have been spelling your daughter's name incorrectly, sorry, I will fix that on my blog and retrain myself to the correct spelling. The Nano butterfly bush is supposedly a dwarf, has smaller leaves, grows more compact, and doesn't get as tall. Mine stays about 5 feet. The others in my yard are easily 10 to 12 feet if I let them. This color is a pale lavender to my eye but called blue, the others I have are dark purple and one called royal red - I will post these other two soon since they are starting to bloom. The butterflies do seem to like them, most have a nice fragrance, not too strong.

    Yes, Good morning Meredith and thanks.

    Hi Cynthia, thanks, I am wondering if most potters, if not all artists, are like this, working mostly in fits and starts and solitary. I am like you, last night as I was writing this I was prompted to do so since I felt I needed to push myself into some type of a routine for the summer and get some stuff done otherwise I was afraid time would be passing me by and I would look back and say - what did I do with all those days? Pottery is time consuming too and I guess I can only work those long hours for so long before I need to rest up a bit. I imagine with your recent show and teaching schedule, you would need some ebb time for sure.

  6. Nice post Linda, I so enjoy your writing. I agree that creativity does have a certain process that can be very individual and extremely necessary. I feel successful, commercial artists are able to pull themselves through the ebb time quicker than not and it takes practice.

    After a particularly productive time I feel as though I've ran a marathon and my initial reaction is to lay back, relish the down time, celebrate the high level of output, revel in the creative afterglow... then I remember the house and utility bills are due -it must be FLOW time!

  7. Hi Cindy, thanks so much, I am enjoying and gaining a lot from my writing too; it helps me organize my thoughts and catapults me into making plans and taking action. Last night I was thinking I needed to get going on some work since I finished the two marathon glazes at school and was feeling kind of guilty for not having anything in the works. It would be nice to relish and revel a bit more (love your poetic words) but I understand what you mean about needing to get the flow going. I know if I sequester myself in my studio and look through my sketch books, the flow will return very quickly.

  8. I bet the gardening time allows a lot of time to create ideas without critique, too. It will be interesting to see what comes out when you next have clay in your hands. Thank you, for the heads up about the pitcher throwing video. It was great.

  9. Hi Barbara, thanks, I create ideas in my head, but I truly have so much to do here it is leaving me little time to get clay pieces done. And actually I would relish more critiques, but I think those in person would be more productive as pottery I have found is at it's best viewed in person. Supposedly someone was coming to look at our huse and we spent all day clean ing and they have to reschedule, at least our house is clean.

  10. There you go, making waves again! The form on this is interesting. your nature pics are beautiful!

  11. Hi Patricia, thanks, I need to make a few waves in the clay world, te he. Not sure where these ideas spring from but yesterday a mother and her daughter came into my studio and the daughter was immediately drawn to this form - so I guess that is a good thing. Thanks about the photos, there is so much beauty around here I could take photos all day long.


I love suggestions, questions, critiques, thanks for your comment