In honor of the season finale of the television series 'Mad Men', I tried a new manicotti recipe for dinner last night (stay with me, there will be a connection here). I made everything from the sauce to the pasta. It took some planning; I had to shop and make sure I had the right ingredients; I had to allow enough time for the sauce to simmer and develop flavor over a couple of hours and I had to trust it would all come together. Believe me, there are times I’m just as happy to cook using prepared ingredients and snap decisions. But when I can plan it, I really enjoy the process that leads to the end result.
Of course this ‘love of process’ relates to clay and what I do in the studio. Now that I think about it, it’s part of my make-up with any task I take on. My creative juices peak when I accept an offer to make something I’ve never created before or have a new idea in my head. I think about the final shape, figure out the necessary parts, make a template and start cutting and assembling clay. It does not always translate the first time around. But that’s okay. There are times I’ve spent hours on a project and when it’s finished, it’s just not right. I’ll either smash it or put it aside to use as a reference and start over again – happily.
It all starts with a blank canvas. I roll out the clay with my slab roller to a little more than a 1/4 inch thickness.
I'm working on a yellow jasmine flower for a totem project. Here is the first version. I didn't like it. It wasn't working. For me, I learn from the assembly of the clay. I have enough experience to know when I need to continue to work on the design. Back to the 'drawing board.'
I cut out a new leaf shape. It's less 'pointy' and not as long as the first rendition.
The new design is working. It took a few attempts, but it was time well-spent in the studio!
So back to the 'Mad Men' connection. It wasn't the recipe that held any meaning to this 1960's based drama, but the story of starting from scratch. Sometimes this can lead to success, but it might also bring about failure. For me, the final show of this television series showed how the main character, Don Draper dealt with his highs, his lows, his constant self-reinvention. He was always willing to start over. That's a great life lesson. I'll try to remember that in the studio and everything I do.
Click on image below! If you're a 'Mad Men' fan, you'll understand!