A fresh box of clay. Brimming with possibility but intimidating.
The beginnings of a clay sculpture can begin methodically: a sketch, a measured drawing, a platform or armature, and a base layer. But then there is a process of building out into the volumes of the form. Add clay, refine, repeat. More must be added so that some can be taken away. Much like the design process in architecture – add, add, delete. And it’s in the build-up that things can get a little wild. The sculpture gets messy. There are globs everywhere. It’s easy to give up at this point, to think the project has really jumped the shark, and that we might as well pack things up before any chance onlookers become frightened.
What I’ve learned, however, is that this part – the scary part – when things seem to be going completely off the rails, is absolutely vital to the process. This is when the piece begins to take on its own life and might reveal a surprise or two for consideration. The magic is in reigning the forms back in while also keeping an element of that which was unexpected.
The more willing we are to get messy and accept surprise, the wilder (and more informative) we can let the forms become before we jump in to refine them.