Your Facebook Email Shocked me to Ponder …Where is this project going?

Someone on Facebook sent me the below email.
 Realize the intent of the writer is for me to ponder the purpose of the project and remainder of cups I’ll be producing (To be honest though, it took a little bit of wind out of my sails when first read because it came from someone who’s opinion I respect…but once processed I understood)…..

“So, cup lady, halfway home! Have you sat and thought about it? You mentioned it the other day… are you growing? You aren’t getting any practice at anything other than centering and pulling up. Your foot rings are all different and your handles will never improve. What have you really gained from 6 months of this? Points to ponder. No reply necessary. I adore you even if you do waste clay.  We all have our faults
Although this sounds a little harsh (don’t judge her 😉 I think I understand the concerns she is having about the point of the project and would like to open them up for others to understand as well: 

“Have you sat and thought about it? 
This project has been on my mind most of every single day since December of 2010. This is a really good question and one I realized I must answer. First, let me share my original intent for the project and its ultimate goal.
The Goals: Skills ~ Critique ~ Understanding
  1. To become a better potter by learning to master skills that would help me create the forms and ideas I see in my head.
  2. To share my throwing sessions online in a simulated class /critique style format where people who are more knowledgeable could point out areas needing improvement by sharing their expertise. (time constraints don’t allow me to attend local classes)
  3. Most importantly: To gain more knowledge, understanding and appreciation for different ceramic forms, art and how people use it for their own self-expression”
“You mentioned it the other day… are you growing?”

Processes are becoming more comfortable for me…more familiar, I feel I am growing.  
I’m better able to sit down and create the forms I intend, trim the foot I want and design the handles the way I’d like to see them. (If I want a pulled handle,  I’m able to pull one until I get the shape I want, but generally I prefer to handbuild one…more fun ;). There is still room for improvement on all points of course, but generally it’s much easier to get to where I want to go with my ideas! (inserting big smile here 😉  
“You aren’t getting any practice at anything other than centering and pulling up. Your foot rings are all different and your handles will never improve.”

I think there may be a little misconception as far as what I’m doing off camera as opposed to what I share on camera. The cups are my first priority, but not the only thing I make.  I may only show one cup a day but am doing more behind the scenes. For every 1 cup shown there are probably 3-5 others being thrown at the same sitting. The cups that don’t make the grade for a project cup are either fired or recycled and reclaimed. 
The skills you see me practice the most are the ones I want to fine tune the most. Handles are still pulled (not necessarily my favorite look) so I don’t make them as much. Handbuilding is much more satisfying for me. 

I’m not completely convinced trimming the same foot ring over and over is the only way to improve on trimming foot rings. The skill that is still needed is probably a better understanding of what size foot ring should go on what cup..balance and symmetry . That’s more knowledge based than skills based and will be filled with opinions of personal preference. Still more I can learn on this!
“What have you really gained from 6 months of this?”
I think it’s more than just basic skills I’ve gained to this point, I’ve gained strength.
Making a commitment to something that’s important to you and following through has incredible power.   Whether it’s been the cold of winter or this heat of summer, I’ve stayed committed to doing this project which requires me to make daily efforts towards improvement in pottery making. It has strengthened the belief that I “can” actually  do it. 
I’ve gained compadres in clay! I’m meeting so many people with incredible skills and talent..I’m slightly in awe actually that they are communicating their knowledge to me.
I’ve learned Patience: Baby steps was the only feasible way for me to learn pottery…I just dont have time for anything more. I realize it’s not “the normal way” pottery skills are learned, but it’s all I’ve got for now. An eager student learns much …and that I am 
I’ve gained skills: An incredible amount of knowledge has been shared along with personal critique which I take to heart. These are critiques I wouldn’t have been able to get any other way without this project and it’s allowed me to grow far more than I would have on my own. I’ve regrouped many times and gone forward in a more purposeful direction.  

Hopefully in my learning others have been able to find something that has helped them as well 🙂 
“I adore you even if you do waste clay.  We all have our faults”
Well, thank you:) At first I didn’t understand the statement about wasting clay, because I thought I was being responsible by reclaiming all my scraps and fumbled pieces. Further conversation led me to learn that I’ve offended someone with the wastefulness of the whole project itself, by firing pieces that are not “top notch” just for the sake of tracking my progress. The wastefulness of the environment per say. 
This is kind of a challenging subject area because it’s my first experience with what I believe is the “art vs function” debate. I like both functional and artistic pieces so I’m not sure where I fall in this, but my intent for the cups has been for them to be used..unless I made them for artistic purposes. Art is in the eye of the beholder, so it may not be art to one, but art to another 🙂 
What am I going to do with the cups?
I get this question a lot and thought now would be a good time to answer. The cups need to be kept until after the project as it was discussed that the gallery in town wanted to show them in 2012. I also may put together a book for myself of the cups. After that I will be giving them away to the people that I made specific cups for, and possibly selling the rest to re-coup some  of the money I used to fund the project…and of course keeping a couple of my favorites! 😉  Simple, logical…and I believe non-wasteful. 
Hopefully this has answered some questions 🙂 Thank you for sending the email. It did cause me to ponder your points and really clarify my position on the project. All things work together for good…this included and yes…. I adore you too girly!

2 thoughts on “Your Facebook Email Shocked me to Ponder …Where is this project going?

  1. Tammy you are not being wasteful of clay at all and I can see a definate improvement. You can't recycle everything as you need to practice glazing too!!! I don't agree with this persons initial comments at all, they seemed a little negative but you seem to have turned it all into positive for youself so well done!

  2. I don't know who sent this to you, but I have a feeling they don't know much about clay.
    1. You are not being wasteful. The best clay teachers in the world will tell you to fire some things, even if they aren't top notch, to learn glazing techniques and experiment with glaze, it isn't all in the cup. A perfect cup can have ugly glaze that will make it an ugly cup…so you aren't wasting anything.
    2. Pulling handles isn't the only way to make handles. Nuff said.
    3. Centering and pulling up is the hardest part of throwing, and therefore should be practiced the most. I've instructed beginning students in ceramics for going on 3 years now, it's the hardest part to grasp.
    4. You are improving so much, just me looking back on your old videos to now, it's so much more controlled and the cups are more creative! You are doing wonderfully.

    It doesn't sound like this guy/gal got you down about your pottery and I'm glad! There will always be critics! I had this happen to me this past semester, I threw my first vase over 2 feet high, in two pieces, I had never done it before and all I got was "It looks crooked", no "good job", or "wow, look how far you've come", but I kept going and I'm glad you are too! Can't wait to see more cups!

    Gabriel's Grove Pottery

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