Saturday, 5 June 2010

Putting it all together

Well it has been a busy week., being half term and all. It gives me time to reflect on the work and processes that I have in my workshop. Pieces that I have been working on for some time that I fit in when I can. Most of my work involves more simplistic items such as textured bowls and simple lidded forms but little if ever any production work. I decided some time ago that I wanted to be more of a studio turner making gallery pieces rather than being a production turner, although my workshop can hardly be called a studio.

This piece is an amalgamation of many techniques that I have gathered from fellow creators, research, experimentation and observation.

Often I am asked where I get my inspiration from, how do I come up with the ideas. Well there is no easy answer or solution, not that I have found anyhow.

This piece is based on many hours researching the various subjects connected to the particular subject/piece I am making. I am more interested in the philosophy/background to the idea than the physical piece it self. What I mean by this is as in this piece my reference was the Tea ceremony and in particular the period prior to and that of the Tea master Rikyu 1522-1591.

Before this period the tea ceremony was very much for the elite. It was adorned with highly polished extravagant tea houses and utensils. Rikyu changed all of this by stripping away all of this extravagance and changed the ritual to be simplistic and more in harmony with nature. More connected with the philosophy of Wabi-Sabi and the austere way of the Zen monk.

Rikyu's own master took this as a challenge and demanded Rikyu's ritual suicide. Despite this the Tea Ceremony continued the way he had developed it and still does today.

Taking this I wanted to produce a piece that was reflective of the time prior to Rikyu. A piece that had once been extravagant , highly polished and adorned precious metals etc. This symbolises the material objects that were revered at this time as well as today.

Taking that everything in life is impermanent and forever changing, be it coming or going, growing or dying , it is always impermanent no matter how hard we try to hold onto it.

This is reflected in the piece being aged via various processes. The gold even showing signs of de-lamination from the backing surface. The symbolised grasses within the finial and insert bowing and flexing with the change of time, blending but still decaying.

So the basis for this piece being impermanence. This is also symbolic within the materials that I have used.

When starting turning I became embroiled in a purist mind set. Nothing but wood should be used in its pure form. No colouring, texturing, cracks or inclusions.

Over time and slowly progressing towards a more creative mind set I found a desire to include different materials, techniques and ideas.

Within this piece I have started to use polymer clay. It is not a new material to the creative crafts or indeed turning. It is basically a PVC polymer material which can be manipulated like modelling clay in many many ways and then baked in a conventional home oven which cures it.

The benefit of polymer clay over wood is that in fine work it retains a flexible strength where as wood with its short grain becomes weak. It can also be textured, coloured, painted etc, so is very versatile for creative work.

Hopefully I will start working with more materials as I find that taking the best of each material makes for a much more exciting and creative process. Although I am always trying to play catch up with materials and techniques to be able to realise the ideas I have rattling around in my mind. I guess this will continue the more I push my ideas.

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