I have been working now for two weeks in the wonderful ceramics studio of Patricia Griffin — www.PatriciaGriffinCeramics.com. To read about what I’ve been learning and doing, read my earlier posts by clicking on the links below. I’ll be revealing my final project in an upcoming post 🙂
“Learning About Clay” http://twointhemiddle.com/2015/05/19/learning-about-clay/
“Ceramics in an Old Schoolhouse” http://twointhemiddle.com/2015/05/21/ceramic-art-in-an-old-schoolhouse/
“Creativity, Intuition and Patience” http://twointhemiddle.com/2015/05/27/creativity-intuition-and-patience/
“Ceramics Is Not All Fun and Clay” http://twointhemiddle.com/2015/05/28/ceramics-is-not-all-fun-and-clay/
Curious about how Patty discovered ceramics and became a potter, I decided to interview her…
Was art part of your life prior to becoming a ceramicist?
“The kind of work that I’ve done has always been creative. I was a journalist, and then I started a business in marketing, so I was working with people trained in graphic design. We worked on everything from brochures to logos. And then, about 20 years ago, I went back to the community college in my town and took some drawing classes. One day, I wandered into the ceramics department and just got entranced.”
What drew you to ceramics?
“I love working with my hands to make something. The whole idea that from a lump of clay I can make something someone can use—that really interested me. I’ve had several forays into more sculptural work, but I’m drawn to the functional pieces that I make. I never get bored; there’s so much to learn. The most fun thing about art is that you never know what the next step is going to be. I like that, I like that I’m always kind of surprised.”
How did you discover etching?
“I wanted to do something that had a local flavor to it. I had fallen in love with Fiscalini Ranch [a nature preserve in Cambria], and I began to think about how to depict some of the plants and pine trees on my pieces. I started painting them on, but it just looked like the painting was decorating the piece. I started carving, and then eventually I began etching. I really liked how that black under glaze becomes part of the piece when its fired for the first time. It no longer looks like it’s just painted on, and it’s not just carved on; it’s color and it’s part of the piece. Ever since then, that’s been my goal, to continue working so that the piece, the form, and the decoration are integrated.”
What are some of the challenges you face as a ceramicist?
“Just the material itself—it feels likes sometimes it has its own mind. And the kiln is a whole process in itself that is hard to control; there are a lot of factors that go into making a piece, and some of them are totally in your control and some aren’t. Frankly, that’s one of the things I like, but it can also be frustrating. So I’ve had to try to look at every experience as a learning opportunity. If I have a bad firing or something isn’t coming together as I like, I just have to remind myself tomorrow will probably be better. From a business perspective, it’s challenging to make a productive living as a potter. I have a lot of experience in marketing, so I can do a lot of the marketing myself.”
What is your favorite part about being a ceramicist?
“My favorite stage of the work is the decoration, the etching; but also, I think if I had to do that all the time, I wouldn’t enjoy it as much. I enjoy that no day is the same.”