Wayne Batchelder PotteryMeaningful Experiences with Clay & Wood
Wood Street Studios
In January of 2020 we added a new pottery studio in our back yard, joining my wife Valerie’s Watercolor Studio. This experience happened just before the Coronavirus situation hit our country, and it became more than a blessing as it provided me with a wonderful new pottery studio to enjoy. As the country and city became sheltered in I was able to find peace and focus in having my studio to work in every day. But the studio also represents a new phase in my pottery – I was having to make all decisions without my friends to help out – which put me in a position of self-learner, a concept and process that I had encouraged and trained my students to become when I was a college professor. I learned by making my own mistakes, a throwing error, a glaze I made that didn’t work as expected, loading a piece or two in a bisque kiln that exploded. My adherence to wabi-sabi principles helped me through learning from my imperfections. When I made a mistake, I also learned how to correct it. It has been an amazing experience to discover a process I was already involved with, yet this time, I was the learner! I am learning everyday, and that is peaceful and fulfilling – I love my work with clay and the experiences it provides me.
How not to be perfect!
While I enjoy the process of making pottery inspired by nature – because it teaches me about myself, it is the value I find in life’s imperfections that lead me to this conclusion. As a child and growing up, it was always important to be the best I could be. In school it was good grades, at home obeying parents and teachers, seeking perfection in life.
But life is not always perfect. There were times when grades were not as good as they could have been, there were disappointments when I didn’t win a race at a track meet, or dropped a pass that landed in my hands. There were relationships that didn’t work out, people I didn’t enjoy. I wasn’t perfect, I had imperfections, in fact there were lots of imperfections in life, but that wasn’t so terrible.
Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese concept that celebrates life’s imperfections, the tough times, the dark hours. It is a reminder that “life is transient, imperfection is natural, and there is beauty to be found in simplicity.” (Kaumi)
Wabi-Sabi is often experienced as an aesthetic or design concept. It represents simple but elegant decor, or pottery, or art. It embraces simplicity and imperfection.
In my experience of becoming an artist, I was influenced by the Wabi-Sabi concept and its focus on seeing the beauty in imperfection. I accept my own imperfections. In my pottery I find imperfections more valuable than perfection. Perfect forms come from stores while hand-built art is born from imperfections. The real beauty of working with clay and wood is using it imperfections to make unique, simple forms.
Wabi-Sabi is a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting the natural cycle of growth and decay.
This gallery of my pottery represents a style based on imperfections that show the natural beauty of simple forms, lacking in decoration. They represent a technique that breathe’s the spirit of our lives into what we make.
My Studio Space
Pottery tools are necessary for the many different techniques that are required in making pottery. Artists are often very disorganized or at least semi-cluttered in their studio as the work is given all the attention not the surroundings! But I have always valued an organized collection of tools, to avoid spending needless time trying to find the important tool that is simply not there. I have reasons for keeping tools organized, in that they can be found effortlessly and full attention is kept on the work being created. My wall of tools is sectioned according to the major processed in making pottery. It begins with a section of throwing tools, ribs and such to help shape the pottery. Then there are trimming tools that complete a piece of pottery and form the bottom and other decoration such as faceting, fluting, incising and sgrafitto. Then a section for special measuring as well as finish tools with brushes and glazing tools.