Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Making faces

Polymer clay face with jiggle eyes 2-20-13
I shaped this little face from a lump of polymer clay and a pair of jiggle eyes. He makes me pretty happy.
Playing with clay makes me pretty happy too.

I'm no sculptor, but give me a lump of clay and I travel to a happy place that goes all the way back to first grade. On the first day of school way back when I was a little kid, along with new crayons and fresh pencils, there was always a rectangular block of brand new, cellophane wrapped modeling clay on each student's desk. About the size of a Snickers bar.
Blue. Red. Green.
For my first grade teacher, Mrs. Wallace, I'm sure the clay was just an ingenious way to keep our little hands busy and our little mouths quiet while she read aloud to us or assisted other students.
For me, it was a handful of happy.

A few years ago I took a for real ceramics class in a for real ceramics studio, with for real pottery wheels, extruders, vats of  glazes, kilns and everything. We learned hand building techniques, meaning we didn't get to use the potter's wheels. Instead, we created pieces by simply molding and coiling and pressing and carving the clay with our fingers and a few simple tools. And in this class, each student received a 25 pound brick of pottery clay. Heaven!

We met twice a week from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Often I stayed and kept working through lunch. Why eat when you can play with clay? The hours seemed like minutes. It felt like flying. And the flying took me all the way back to first grade where I was fully immersed, absorbed, lost, happy -- my mind swept clean of everything except for the shape emerging in my hands.

I don't have a kiln, or access to one, so polymer clay is a perfect material for me. I mostly use it to make foundations for Papier Mache masks.

And for immediate transport to my happy place.