Not everything I make in the studio comes out ‘right’ the first time I make it. I have standards, you know! Maybe what I’ve created doesn’t meet my original vision. Perhaps one detail can be improved. Maybe the first design needs to be trashed and rethought. I’ve been thinking a lot about standards this week; several projects in process are not quite up to my standard.
What is my standard in the clay studio? It’s a great question and one I need to remember to ask regularly. My guiding principle is to create useful pottery that reflects the joy I feel each time I touch clay. Each ClayByLaura piece should reflect attention to detail and evidence of the maker. The quality of each finished piece needs to be free of any evident defect.
Sometimes the materials I use do not cooperate at various stages of the clay making process with the standards. For instance, clay can sometimes crack apart when it dries. It’s a bummer. All that work and effort results in a flaw that cannot be fixed. So, that piece is ditched and recycled back to soft clay to be reused. Sometimes imperfections do not appear until after the piece has been glazed and fired. At that point, it must be thrown out or if minimal, sold at a much lesser price as a ‘second’.
I listened to Aretha Franklin music a lot this week. Carole King and Joni Mitchell songs were also played. I know the words to that music; the songs evoke strong memories and emotion when I listen (and sing along). These were some of the ‘standards’ of my youth and the lyrics seem to resonate even more strongly now. “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.”; “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got, til’ it’s gone, they paved paradise and put up a parking lot…”; “You make me feel like a natural woman” (Aretha, Carole King and especially Candace Bergen in Murphy Brown’s rendition).
There was a ‘feel good’ story reported on the news this past week that has stuck with me. It was about a young boy who caught a baseball at a Detroit Tigers game. He gave the ball to another young boy he didn’t know sitting in front of him (because it was his birthday). That young man caught a fly ball the following day and gave it to a little girl, because she’d never caught a ball at a game before. In the interview, the kids talked about their “line of awesomeness” and how it made them feel good. That's a standard I’m trying to emulate -- a line of awesomeness.
What's your favorite standard?