Ten days into my project, I am starting to answer my essential question: What skills must a ceramic artist master distinct from those of a 2D artist, and how can some of these skills be applied to other facets of one’s life? The most crucial skills I have observed so far are creativity, intuition, and patience. These are not necessarily unique to ceramics; in fact, they are probably just as applicable to 2D art. My exposure to a new medium has simply brought my attention to them.
Creativity does not take only the form obviously necessary for any sort of artistic endeavor; I have noticed that in Patty’s studio, it is akin to adaptability. Slip while etching? Turn it into a flower. Warp a bowl while shaping it on the wheel? Make it an elegant curve. This is the “go with the flow” philosophy I mentioned in my last post, and it is liberating. As for intuition, the clay has to be the perfect dryness before it can be fired in the kiln—if it’s not dry enough, it will crack (and although such a crisis would of course be approached with a ceramicist’s signature adaptability, it is best avoided). To know if my medallions were ready to be fired, Patty held them one at a time to her cheek. If they were still cold, they had to dry longer.
Indeed, both creativity and intuition are connected to patience, the supreme skill at play in the schoolhouse. From working on my project, I have learned the importance of patience in ceramics itself, and from observing Patty’s kind interactions with the visitors to the studio, I have begun to witness how it plays out in other facets of a ceramicist’s life.