Saturday, June 20, 2009

work in progress

soon after the may firing, ray suggested i should try and work on a bigger scale- a four feet tall sculpture. he said, make one of ur size!
i decided to work on one of the two forms. the female pillar from the tharu temple.
working bigger scale in ceramic is always tougher and riskier, one has to check everyday for the cracks, let the piece dry evenly and completely, not letting one part dry too fast. i knew of these by watching ray work the last year. so i was mentally prepared for all that.
what i didnt know was how tough it is to visualise the form in bigger scale. perhaps its just me, getting used to the idea of learning to build big, but the same form felt different while building it big. well, it felt beautiful, the entire process of building the piece so slow. it was i think the right warm up for me work on later pieces. out of this building experience i would surely make changes in some approaches for the next one.
the first two weeks were beautiful. i was wedging so much clay everyday and mixing grog in it and making long thick coils of clay and attaching it to the piece. its very slow and i did feel edgy at some point. but the most difficult stage was the last week of building it. the weather was surely not on my side. however much i applied water and covered the piece with plastic it was getting too dry too fast. but the part which i was working on refused to get dry- so i had wait in between i attached the coils for it to strengthen to take one more layer on top without sagging and had to check on it every two minutes. the top part proved most difficult, also becoz it would complete the form- it would give the form the final shape. there were times when i felt i had stopped 'seeing' and had to ask friends to take a look and help me with some lines here and there.
the piece took me three weeks to make and am so NOT happy with it. but ray says thats a good sign- it means i hv learnt to become self-critical and would be building more in order to get that perfect one! i hv surely learnt great amount by building this, am even ready to break it down. being unhappy with the piece one i finished it, gave me a strange sense of freedom...

Monday, June 1, 2009

new work. may 2009.

this summer, i have tried all new things. and worked almost everyday. including sundays. perhaps thats the only way to beat the heat in pondy. in the morning not to think of it, and think of work so u straight away head to the studio and u work so much that evening when u return u cant think about anything else than the days work or what u want to do the next day!
for the first time i tried to build handbuilt forms. ray had left for the Us and had asked me to come up with my own forms. there were two forms which i ofetn thought about and remembered, althought i had seen them many years ago. i started with one form. it was like an addiction. i could not think of anything else. there were days i forgot to buy milk for my coffee and for my cats as i could only think of work while cycling back!
once that was done i immediatelt started the second one.
in both the forms i had only the top most part in my mind as a clear image. i needed to built the bottom. i tried sketching. and also worked for about three weeks just developing the forms- each day adding a little, subtracting a little. its very tough to know when to stop! i wanted a broad base , a strong gravitational force and an equally strong centre taking the energy upwards. i think that took the longest time- to find a force which would make the pieces look alive.
once done, or what i thought as done i made plaster moulds of them, so that i can have identical pieces. i also wantred to try adding grog in my clay body, grog is already fired clay particles which when added to the normal clay body gives a beautiful texture as well as brings down the shrinkage. so i started to roll slabs and work with the mould. at the same time i was throwing tepots on the wheel in the mornings and trying my hand at various kinds of bottles. i was teased at the pottery that i hv been bitten by a bottle bug- i had no complaints!
ray and debi when they got back, liked my work which meant a lot to me. i could not sleep the last two days when ray was supposed to come to see the work- not out of anxeity but out of excitement...
ray wanted me to try some new glazes- so even with the firing everything was new. first time i was making some bigger scale work, handbuilt, and new glazes. the firing process was beautiful. keeping the heat in mind i strated the firing at two am, veena and shonali helped with the wood and also antra with the firing at the later part. i could call the firing as sucessful, i did not get all the effects i wanted or ray expected. but it taught me a lot of things. and i was mentally ready to think of these pieces as trial pieces, one learns very fast in pottery that u cant get what u want- at least not so fast!!
but the forms are growing on me and ray has asked me to make a piece which is four feet tall and some more of this height but with a new approach of making and glazing... so looks like these two forms and the bottles are going to be with me for longer than i thought...
i hvnt named them yet- form one, with the axe head- the top most of it is inspired by a harappa piece of headdress- i was fascinated by it and played around to keep that as the centre and build the rest. the second one, with fingers on top are inspired from the protective or devotional Tharu posts in nepal. in the Tharu temples or local sanctuary the Tharu people use to erect two panels, one to the south direction, the other to the north. these panels represent a divine couple and are devoted to the female divinity cabahwaguni and her companion daharcandi. the panel erected to the south defends the village from the evils spirits, the other to the north for defending the harvest and the fields. from an iconographic view point the panel devoted to the female divinity has on the top four or five points. The panel devoted to the male divinity only one point on the top.
what i was interested in, as a quality - was looking for forms which look primordial. ancient not old. which would evoke history. a feeling that it has lived from a long time.
a new journey...