For something different, I thought I would let you have a peek inside my work day, in the middle of this really big, looming, humongous, leering deadline to which I have referred often in the past few months.
I'm sharing this with you while I wait for a burst of energy to do a third session of porcelain to put in the kiln and fire tonight.
Working with "green" or raw or unfired porcelain is like working with an unbaked pie crust. It is very fragile and can crumble if I look at it wrong.
I have a "Three Breaks and Stop" rule. After I've broken the third piece in a work session, I have to stop until I am more rested, calmer, or have better control of my hands.
Since starting this studio in 1992 and since introducing my line of original sculpture in 1996 (Christmas ornaments, jewelry, vases, tile, statues), tens of thousands of pieces of porcelain have crossed my work tray.
I go through tools at an amazing rate. Note the ends of the tools in the second picture. The large tool is relatively new. The almost-worn-to-a-nub tool has been used for a month or so. Try to picture wearing down a hard metal sculpting tool against material with the texture of an uncooked pie crust.
You see, I am the last pair of hands to work on every piece that comes out of this studio. I decided early on that if my signature was on the piece, then I wanted to have put in time finishing that piece.
I collect stuff that carries an artist's signature or logo...but the last time that artist ever touched that line was when the original was finished. More on this area of conversation later. I will be asking for your thoughts and opinions.
Today I spread an old quilt on the bed, propped up a BUNCH of pillows, positioned a flax pillow in the small of my back, put my work tray on a big 37 inch square pillow in my lap, covered with old towels, and started sculpting tiny details on each of these Spirit of Hospitality Pineapple brooches.
This is a special commission for 600 brooches for the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. The deadline is the first week of July. This project started 16 months ago, and it has been a nail-biter.
The Penny Sanford Porcelain studio is in a transition phase. We have more requests for special commissions than we can do, and we need to transition to a custom manufacturer to free me up to create more original art.
I'll be sharing this bumpy ride with you in future posts. You too will be saying, "what ELSE can go wrong?" Well, oodles, I promise, some of it genuinely funny!
Two intense work sessions today, propped up on my pillows, with Elvis sleeping against me, his head often propped on the work tray.
In his second picture, he is playing Peep--Eye with me, opening those beautiful big brown loving eyes from time to time, just to check on me. I love you too, my little man.
Lillibeth snuggles with one of her toys in the last picture. She and Annie usually log as many hours as Elvis "assisting" me with the porcelain.
If I've not sculpted for a week, for example, the act of sinking a tool into the clay or the raw porcelain is still a fresh, exciting experience.
So back to the porcelain. I'd like to complete seven more brooches tonight, giving me a total of 20 in the kiln.
It is slow work. Right now, it is taking me 20 or 30 minutes PER brooch.
More behind the scenes to come...