Wayne Batchelder PotteryMeaningful Experiences with Clay and Wood
Throwing at the pottery wheel is my zen. It allows me the space to get totally focused on the clay and its movement. As I sit at the pottery wheel I have been using for more than 20 years, I am reminded that my pottery journey began more than three decades ago. I first explored clay through pottery workshops at community art centers, and later, as my skills improved, with well-known potters.
Early in my learning to work with clay I experienced that the process involves the integration of my inner search with what I was practicing with clay. I initially tried to force the form to emerge. But I learned the best practice is to allow the form to emerge without undue external pressure, to “let the clay shape itself.” Pottery comes alive when I integrate my inner search with my outer practice.
I have experienced a wide range of pottery making over the years. Raku pottery was my favorite at one time, for the unexpected results that occurred when pottery was removed from a kiln red-hot and placed in an air-tight container with combustible materials, was fun and exciting. It introduced me to the value of the unexpected, and the resulting glazed pieces always had an old, ancient appearance which I still enjoy and try to achieve in other types of firing and glazing.
Eventually, a potter friend helped me to discover that my real attraction is with “reactive” glazes, especially ash glazes, shinos and wood fire processes. I now personally make most of the glazes I use on my pottery. I always look forward to opening my studio kiln, to experience the surprise of how each glaze has reacted with the clay.
My interest has evolved and now most of my pottery is functional, designed to be used in everyday life. I also enjoy producing purely sculptural pieces. I design many of my functional pieces around fallen tree limbs I discover during my walks in the woods. Another zen place that keeps me grounded and inspired. In giving new life to the discarded wood, I seek to honor its service to the planet, and to remind us to stay connected to nature. Many people who have bought my wood-handled mugs say it helps them to start their day with the perspective of gratitude.
My art is guided by the ancient aesthetic philosophy of wabi-sabi, which honors simplicity and imperfection, even the cracks and crevices that come with age and decay. It is a mindful reminder that imperfection is part of the natural order of life, that true beauty is not dependent on improvement or ornamentation.
I invite you to hold my pottery, to discover the “flaws” (imperfections) that give it character and life. I don’t ask that you figure out why you’re drawn to it. Just that you embrace the connection it seeks to make with your own soul.