Terracotta, afternoon of a rainy day. It’s the day to take a first tour on the potter’s wheel.
In the midst of my design confusion I decided to take a moment off and concentrate on learning (or at least starting) a technique that has always fascinated me.
Even more complicated than I expected. You have to get completely in touch with the material, become part of it but keep a minimum detachment to be able to model as you want (or as you would like). You have to be kind but determined. Every action has an inevitable consequence. The slightest gesture changes. Symmetry is vital.
Before I started I was lucky enough to meet Yasmin, an English girl in her fourth lathe session. Not expert but willing to share with me her few tricks learned in previous sessions.
She showed me her progress by showing me some small pots she had made. Unbelievable!
In the meantime I started the potter’s wheel, I started to hit the ball I had made and slowly I succeeded in my intent.
Time flew by. In the two hours that I have experienced I have come several times to create forms that I liked but I have never been able to stop and say “ok this is fine”. Destroying everything you’ve done is too easy, just a little movement, the ceramic too wet, the ceramic too dry, a thickness too thin and… everything falls.
While I was finishing my afternoon cleaning the lathe that I had used, I was reminded of a phrase that Maiko had told us in the previous days and that had intrigued me. I don’t remember the exact words but she said that for her ceramic is not the “right” material because it has no limits or edges to respect when you create, while with wood you have a well-defined volume in which to work that you have to take into account (her words were certainly more interesting in expressing the concept).
Until now I had only tried one of the many techniques possible with ceramics, that is, plaster moulds where you work within a defined shape to be reproduced. I realized this great difference between having limits and not having them.
So the next day I decided to try the wood lathe.
Immediately I noticed a substantial difference; if in the potter’s wheel I had the freedom to experiment without knowing where to get, with wood I had to give myself a shape that I wanted to reach because the material that is subtracted is lost forever.
So I decided to make a cone because it is a form that interests me by project. I asked Neal for a piece of wood on which to start working, also telling him that it was my first time and I wanted to start getting used to the technique.
Neal gave me a horrible piece of wood (his words) and explained very kindly how to use the lathe.
The first step is to bring the parallelepiped to be a cylinder and this is the most “ugly” part of the machining and also the most tiring. My fingers shaken very hard on the iron plate, in a few minutes my skin had gone away on a small portion of my finger. Realizing that I was doing something wrong, I adjusted my hands until I could find the right position for my fingers. Four fingers below and the thumb above to control the vibrations.
Once the cylinder is created, the fun begins and the pain ends.
I decided that the base of the cone would be left in the chuck attachment. I started to create a very tall and slender cone because of the size of the wood I had.
I arrived at a time when the cone was almost complete and I also had fun sanding it, but it was necessary to cut off the excess part to complete it.
Not having used the full length of the cylinder, I had another part of material left after the top of the cone. I thought it would be interesting to try to make a sphere because in many cones there is a final part that widens as if to form an ellipse.
So I started to create the sphere slowly subtracting material even in the junction with the cone. suddenly, tac, broken.
The wood has flown away, the sphere has detached from the cone.
Then I just reinstered the cone in the lathe and started to finalize it.
I liked the shape but something was missing to make it more like a cone of the road even if the proportions did not remember it at all.
So I decided to make two incisions towards the base, as if to remember the white reflective band.
Then I decided to apply the color, white and red, but in a completely different way from what you see in the street. Usually the cones are red with a white band or at most two.
In this case I did not want to buy the wood grain completely and then or decided to apply the color in another way.
I think that the reference to the road cone is now much more evident. Simply by applying two colors to a shape that remembers it but does not respect its proportions.