There are many ceramic artists at Clayworks who painstakingly create test tiles so they can predict, to a certain degree, their results. The science of glazing is enormous and complex. I have yet to make a test tile; instead I tend to jump right in, creating large vessel forms and applying glaze as if it were paint. I learned my lesson, I hope, with the most recent vessels. There were 4 of them that are in pieces now.
Glazes undergo a chemical transformation during the firing process. Unlike paint, what you see when you apply it won’t be what you get later on. I can be impatient; I will make test tiles now.
In the meantime, I brought the vessels home and began to drop them onto the sidewalk, hoping to get some pieces that I could use for mosaics. I tried to do the dropping discreetly. I didn’t want to create tiny ceramic shards that could cut little fingers. There was, however, no getting around the sound they made as they crashed to the ground. It was cathartic for me but I had to address the consternation of a couple of people walking by.
When I was working on the 4 aforementioned vessels, I knew they could be flops, not only because it was almost impossible to know what they would look like but because I was throwing in too much information. I knew it, but I had to see this through. I’ve always heard, “Keep it simple, Mia” from fellow artists, friends, people in the biz, and from myself.
I don’t know if I’ll use the pieces for mosaics. The process was kind of brutal, and expensive too. There’s the obvious comparison to “picking up the pieces”. I could go on and on about that. The take-away for me, however, is that simple is enough. When simple is done well, it suggests complex. For me to do simple requires listening, being patient, and making test tiles.