Sunday, January 24, 2010

(Above: new bisque fired clay pieces awaiting inspiration)

Inspired in a basement.

On Friday, I got the chance to visit Gina’s clay studio.

I met Gina last year during the opening for Beaverton Art Showcase. I really enjoyed meeting her and interviewing her about the mural project in our suburban downtown area. So I was really looking forward to visiting her clay studio.

Gina is a well known local painter and for the last few years, she’s been working in clay, too. I’ve worked in clay off and on, but this year I’m doing more thanks to a gift of a kiln. Having my own kiln gives me many new opportunities, but there’s also a lot for me to learn.

Gina generously offered to share her knowledge and techniques with me. Down in her basement, I was surrounded by clay bowls and vessels big and small. The shelves were filled with rows of work waiting to be fired, glazed and finished. Three tables were topped with even more work in process.

Gina showed me how she paints different colored slips on different colored clays to create a rich textured surface. She showed me the glazes she uses and how the colors look on the pieces after firing. She generously shared her knowledge and I learned a lot, of course.

We shared our thoughts, our process and our fears about adventuring into a media that was new to us. And we laughed a lot, too.

I enjoyed getting to know Gina better. I was inspired by her whimsical bird houses, her vessels and bowls, the deep colors and textures, and the amount of work that surrounds the space. And even though she may not be aware of it, I can see how Gina’s painting techniques coming through her work in clay.

Seeing all the different ways to use one glaze, touching the different colored clays, talking about art and sharing laughs, I felt energized. I couldn’t wait to get home, get out my clay catalog and make a list of new supplies. I felt new ideas dancing in my head. I started to crave the touch of soft, new clay.

But the most important thing I found in the basement was a my inspiration. I didn’t realize that it was buried, until I ventured down into Gina’s clay studio.

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