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News from the shed – A whole new world opens up!

When I look back over the last few months, I have managed a steady plan within the confines of 10hrs per week cleaning up my shed, priority setting and keeping myself on track. I placed little cards around me to remind myself to simplify my life, complete the old to let in the new, trust in my intuition, create the life I want, allow myself to dream and so on. I am slowly building contents for the web site and considering the future of The Clay Effect and what it will be. I am working on completing a few pieces to clear the studio benches, playing around with slip casting my cyber cups and continuing experimentation with flower surfaces. I attended another life study workshop in January with Sydney Art Space, and I even applied for the Advanced Diploma of Ceramics with Hornsby Tafe thinking that I could start off slowly by taking one or two subjects to get started and then if all goes well… perhaps I could do more. It’s all very Zen and mindful, and all about a peaceful space.

Little did I know it, but my half arsed naïve application has opened a door to another world I never knew could exist for me. My application led to a conversation with the Head of Ceramics and Visual Arts to discuss the course and logistics of dipping my toe back into the educational waters. The conversation was filled with a few hmm’s, unfortunately’s, and not really’s in response to my questions, followed by a gentle explanation of how the course worked. I continued with several uh-ha’s and I see’s, until we arrived at the crux of the matter… can I make a 2 day per week commitment to attend Hornsby Tafe for the 2 years starting the following week? I need 4 weeks to make any change at work, I can’t resign… can I? What a ludicrous proposition. I ended the call with the agreement to start week 5, to be confirmed post a discussion with hubby over the weekend. In that moment, Friday 4.48pm, it was all too impossible for words. I swallowed my disappointment believing that nothing could change and reigned in my nonsense by the reality of maybe one day. Fortunately, I am blessed to have a hubby who is a “glass half full” kind of guy. It was a relatively short conversation, it is time for change, we quickly developed a plan for execution on the Monday. Done. Settled. All I had to do was leap joyously into my new life.

I joined the course on Tue 15th March, the 1st term ended last week closing out the subjects of hand building techniques, materials and processes. In 4 weeks, I have slab built a small abstract form (I did not know that I had it in me), completed a bunch of tests tiles and surface techniques, in progress with building two vessels, one a traditional Jomon pot exploring coil and hand building, the other a slab built Clarice Cliff teapot using Nerikomi and Mishima techniques. I have made my first ever pinch pots, and I have a project to create a creature or two using this method. Everything we do is recorded, step by step, in our creative journals. Class notes, drawings, progress pics, it’s all in there and part of our assessment over the 2 years. For two projects we were asked to put together a simple proposal, outlining concept to completion, and discuss the work as it occurs. I am in a class of 8, we are settling in well together, and getting to know the 2nd year students who live in the throwing room next to our hand building room.

The ceramics building, our building K, has a room for each stage of the process, and a central hallway filled with trolleys of drying works and student lockers. The teachers all work as a team managing us through the course, keeping up the work pace, and preparing us for what’s next on the curriculum. It is all absolutely nuts, feeling more like an extreme sport than a peaceful journey. I am hurtling from one task to another, free falling as I work out how to fly without crashing… and I am loving all of it. The best part is I am not alone, there are 7 others having the same experience as me, a mosh pit of exhilarating and challenging experiences and emotions, I am transported to a place where I belong. A community of artists engaged in learning and exploration with their chosen medium clay.

I lean into the next two weeks, with more stuff in my shed, course deadlines to contend with, my personal works still to be completed, and a new level of studio reorganisation is required. Even though I resigned from my business role, I am still working 3 days a week until the mid-June, and my hours are now less than 30 hrs per week. Letting go of that persona is easier than I thought it would be. I am focused on completing the work outstanding from term 1 making sure that I am ready for term 2. I am told it’s going to be a doozy!

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