Primarily, I am a sculptor and my entry into ceramics happenstance. However, after a number of years learning to work with the medium, I find I now turn to clay as the foundation of any significant sculpture.
Working with clay for a sculptor is about feel – is it plastic enough to mold, is it stiff enough to carve, is it strong enough to support itself, will it absorb surface treatments, or will the added mediums remain unintegrated with the clay? Some of these questions are design issues and determined by your choice of clay and subject matter but as you work the clay your fingertips are constantly in a feedback loop with your artistic self. For me, once the conscious mind lets go, the body takes over and you are one with the clay - the process is meditative.
As with a painter where the decision of when the painting is finished is critical, so it is with ceramic sculpture except here decisions of when or when not to work can be almost minute by minute. Decisions to work or stop work are tied to the moisture content of the clay you are using which fluctuates with the humidity in the environment, and the surface area exposed to the air by the sculptor’s manipulations. If you are molding, or carving or decorating, the decision point is different! To stop creating to “obey” what the clay is telling me is the hardest lesson I have had to learn on my journey with this medium.
I find my work is either focussed, such as the Yin/Yang vase above where I have a planned end result, or it is not – there seems to be no in-between. When my hands “doodle” with clay they create figurines or hands like you see here.