Another thing I’ve been learning is “finishing better”.
I had an Uncle who in his old age became sickly, and as he approached life’s end, began to talk more and more about “finishing well”. He began to spend much more time with his family. He worked at making things right in his relationships with them, expressing his love for them, plus asking for forgiveness for any neglect or mistakes he’d made as a father and husband. It made a huge difference. For now the family, in his illness gathered around him and gave him love and support in return.
The surface texture of each piece of sculpture has a lot to do with what the work communicates. Some need to be rough, others smother or very smooth. It is important to carefully consider this surface as it must be in unity with and accentuate the message or voice of the piece. Once it has been made, it cannot be changed. Therefore it is important to make sure we do this “finishing well”.
The “Foxy David 2” in the picture above is now being prepared for firing. It will have two distinct finishes. The head is a fox-head with a finish reflecting a surface or finish of fur. The rest of the piece like the spy-glass of metal and glass, plus the clothing will have a smooth finish. The reason the clothing should be smooth is because he is a king, sitting on the roof of his house in his rich soft evening cloths. The tombstone, in reality, will also be smooth.
How is this done? By a combination of three ways. First is simply wetting the surface and your fingers and rubbing the surface smooth. Another is the use of that good old shammy you use for washing the car. This is an excellent tool to smooth out a piece near or at the leather hard stage.
Thirdly, there is the old technique of sanding. Wait till the whole piece is bone dry, get the kind of sandpaper you want, rough or fine and go to it. Except, you will need a mask as you do not want to breath in that fine clay dust. Danger, danger! Also, as you proceed with the sanding you will have this fine dust laying around so a vacuum is suggested. I already have chosen a smaller compact vacuum (being a cleaning company) which I will be “placing strategically” in my studio for just this purpose. You may also need a brush to remove dust from the piece together with the vacuuming.
Usually it is not just a one or the other kind of thing. I find that as I progress with the piece I’m spending a lot of time working on the surface using all of these techniques. When it’s bone dry, I have one final opportunity to “finish well”. I will have done some test pieces having to do with the colouring, so also considering that, I turn the piece on its lazy susan and do what has to be done to the surface to bring it to completion.
Ceramics is very resilient and will basically last forever. Each piece will have a life and journey of its own. That alone is enough to shock me into realising again how important it is to carefully think through and reflect on the creative process of each peace.
So as it is with life, we will also live forever and as my uncle realised there would come a time when no more “corrections” would be possible. Nearing the end, he made sure he did what he could to “finish well.” while he still had the chance to do so.
“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning - the sixth day.”