Clay On His Hands by Matt Schildkamp

Clay On His Hands by Matt Schildkamp


So what should I be doing? [off-camera laughing] I could be like looking at it. Do you want me to look up at all? Ah. [soft guitar music] The official term, you often hear it in in schools, in art schools, you hear it, it’s called ceramics, right? [soft guitar music] Somehow something clicked in my head where it said, “Well, this is what I want to do. I’m not sure how it’s gonna turn out. Or how well. Or who I’ll study with. Where I’ll go with it.” But I just embarked on the journey. [hands working clay, soft guitar music] As I grew older and I went through high school and started thinking about where to go to school, Vermont really stood out in my mind. And I was very lucky to have an instructor who really riveted me to the whole art form of working ceramics. His name was Hideo Okino, and he was a great teacher and huge influence on me. [hands working clay, soft guitar music] Spend a lot of time studying an aesthetic and trying to understand it. And then you also have to figure out how to actually work, and like in my case would be learning how to throw on the wheel. So you learn how to manipulate the clay, you put in years and years of just learning a technique. In the end, you can forget about what you’ve learned, and you just start making good work. That’s the hope. [soft guitar music] So what my favorite pieces are, there’s a bit of a struggle in determining the form, so you’re a little on the edge of your comfort zone. Natural beauty and a little bit of mystery, and struggling with technique, maybe with scale, slowly give birth to this form that’s really complete and itself has balance, has vitality, has a little tension. [soft guitar music] What’s interesting with clay: it’s immediate, like it’s soft. So when you arrive at this form, you can either stop and then preserve it and it’ll fire and it’ll be there forever, or you can keep going and change the forms You have to know when to stop. The ones that are really good, they’re just a – it’s a real gift somehow. They’re so beautiful you want to put them away somewhere. And then you pull them out once in a while [soft guitar music] I remember getting to a point where I thought, “You know, it, it’s sort of lonely work, and sometimes you can’t share it with anybody, and you’re so involved in thinking about all these forms, and thinking about glaze calculation, and wouldn’t it be nice to be able to share it. I just took a stab at this idea of teaching and I found it very rewarding just to get – just to be able to explain a process that I understood fairly well. And so you want to sort of pass some of that on, ‘cause you figure things out as you go along. [classroom sounds, soft guitar music] What’s best about working with 20 college kids is a real desire to learn for one thing. And there’s such an excitement about life and what lies before them. So they’re open to information. And then what comes back is really fresh and spontaneous work. So that’s really a benefit for me, because I keep getting, my reservoir keeps getting refilled from having that exchange with these students. I try and get to a place where it’s, I’m not really the subject and it’s more about the process. And if you don’t get in the way with your own ego. I’m sort of like the mediator between the material and divine or something inbetween That would be the best situation you know. And, in the end, if you get, if you end up with a really good piece of work, it’s a real gift because it’s had to go through so many different processes that you can’t really control. So if you end up with something great, then you’re so thankful, you know. Studied really hard. [student laughs off camera]

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