Friday, October 26, 2012

Darting Under the Eaves

When I told my mom that I was going to start teaching a handbuilding class a few months ago, one of the first things she said to me was that I would probably find all sorts of new ideas for my own work as a result.

Mom was right.

The other week found me demonstrating to my class how to create slab built mugs from their own paper templates.  The sample template I cut out was for a cone shaped mug with a waaaay too big opening at the wider end.  Oops!  Luckily I quickly thought of how to use the error as a discussion point about how they could refine their own templates when one of my students asked if they could "dart" their mug.

Darting in clay does exactly what it does in sewing.  Removes clay and creates a tapering of the piece just like darts do for skirts and shirts.  While it is a technique I'm familiar with I hadn't pulled it out of my tool bag for years until incorporating it into a class lesson on vases the prior week.

Since it had obviously stuck with my students as a cool process, I demonstrated what darting could do if used on my too wide cone.  I flipped it around to have the super wide end as the top and proceeded to add darts until the mouth was a more functional size and shape.

The class dispersed to start work on their own templates and mugs with my parting, "once you refine your templates keep them so you can make more later."

Good thing I took my own advice.

Just before the next class, I pulled out the template to re-make the mug again.  I wanted to re-demonstrate making and adding handles since my students' mugs had been a little too wet the previous class.  As I added darts to the mug, comparing placement to the original as I went, I was reminded of how much I liked the shape.

Those darted mugs seemed like they might be a finished design.  Little did I know they would stay in the back of my thoughts to re-emerge while I sat under the eaves at the Desert Art Center this past weekend.  

My view that day consisted of bunches of palm trees with haircuts.  At least that is what it looked like to me, trees with haircuts.  The dead palm fronds trimmed like split ends to prevent ragged ends of palm fronds from hanging down.  As I sat there pondering why landscapers hadn't just pulled off the dead fronds instead of giving them a trim, it hit me.

Trimming.  How could I incorporate this idea into my work?  My darted mugs popped back to the front of my mind.  I pulled out a pad of paper and started sketching some different options to trim (dart) mugs into interesting shapes.

So much for my "finished design."  I can't wait to try out some of these other thoughts to further develop my next mug series. 
At least the hard part is done thanks to my students and my palm tree view from under the eaves ... the title. Need you ask?  I'll call them Darting Under the Eaves, of course!

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