Today in my yet-to -be studio/gallery downtown….

….On the 80’s goodwill stereo system is Frank Delaney’s podcast on Ulysses, followed by some Rocksalt and Nails, and maybe the soundtrack to Once, before I get a hankering for something else. Smells like cinnamon and musty clay in here, and the a/c keeps it nice and cool, maybe too cool but you can always walk outside to warm up; if the sun is out it won’t take long at all.
A few pedestals are in the room, although I have a longstanding grudge against pedestals and their general un-wield-iness. I needed them to display work from other artists, old classmates of mine mostly and one or two students to keep the morale up,

I had a private lesson over lunchtime but she canceled; my next class is at 7 tonight, and until then I have a kiln to load and start and some slurry that needs working. My working priority remains: Use what I have, before I go buying or borrowing or stealing. So I throw all the scraps of clay into the bucket, the little bits of porcelain in with the medium weight stoneware and some earthenware from another project; add some toiletpaper for openness and big scoop of Kyanite to hold it all together in the end, it’ll be alright to work with. I need to make another chimenea, a fire-holder, from my Fire in Her Belly series (a term I used after the venerable David Wojnarowics but before the clod Sarah Palin did). Perhaps she will be only a head this time, is what I am thinking about. This is the best time in the project, when its all idea and possibility, and the materials are at hand, and enough time stretches out in front of me to begin it. I am like a dog on a hunt, all my senses honed and focused to the whiff of potential at my feet. Don’t expect me home anytime soon.
In the meantime, while the ideas are tossed aside as no good and impossible and already done and dumb and dumber; during this uninspired and restless time, my hands keep reaching into the bag of porcelain scraps, and pounding out a little pear shapes. Same hollow pear, with a hole in each end, and finely burnished into a cool smooth round fullness.

No reason, other than this is my shape, the one to which I keep returning. In grad school I had to answer the question, “Why pears?” and I was very good at answering in a very academic, research-oriented way, something about the reproductive systems both literal and literary, and it was a dense metaphor that began simply but opened up towards the middle, until the interviewer moved on to the next question. This is what I learned to do. My very first answer to the question, however, was a more gutteral, crude response: I would place the porcelain pear into their hands, and close their hand around it, and ask them,” Who do you see? What do you smell? ” . That is all I really know.
I can say things that sound like I know things (and any child understands this keenly) when all I really know is what I experience. So I make pears out of porcelain, and sometimes I fire them, and sometimes I let them melt out in the rain. Sometimes I cast them in glass, but they make me so sad when they break that I stopped using glass. Ceramic shards don’t break my heart, they continue to refer to the whole and they remain forever, for some other life form to discover and piece together and wonder about. Someone far, far into the future may ask the question, “Why pears?” and they will be able to answer their own question when they hold it in their digits.
So while I am musing over the problem of what to make for the Clay Cubed call for entries, due in 120 days or so, I may make a few pears.
There’s a lot of copper laying around behind the counter and on the wall, flashing and tubing and elbow joints and thin wire. What’s with the copper, you might ask. Welllllll…..


About genieearle

I make things in my tiny studio called Claywise, as I try to understand the world I live in, and what it means to be human. I have 4 amazing offspring who are making their own paths, and I am currently an outpatient counselor at a drug and alcohol rehab center, where we do expressive arts in group therapy. View all posts by genieearle

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