Monday, April 8, 2024

ARMY Glow-Up Goal Work in Progress: Handbuilt Pottery

Dear Jin,

You said in Awake: I can't touch the sky / Still, I want to stretch my hand out / I want to run, just a bit more. There are things I can no longer do at my age, but your song, Awake and the lyrics you sing about motivated me to pursue a recreational activity that is therapeutic. Also, it bolsters creativity. You see, I went back to pottery in September 2023 inspired by the ARMY Glow Up campaign of Titas of BTS and ARMY Connect PH. Here I am now, proud to share with you my journey which include the blocks and bumps I encountered along the way.

1.     My ARMY Glow-UP Goal Pillar: ARMY Glow-Up Recreation

2.       My AGU_Recreation Goal: My goal is to relearn the basics of handbuilding in making pots, mugs and trinket dishes from earthenware and stoneware clay into useful pots and ceramics. In pottery and clay art, I find the space and time to calm down and decompress. Handbuilding and pottery sessions with a small group of friends and peers is a bonding session where we share the joy of creative play and companionship.

3.       Steps and strategies I have taken: I went back to my notes and art journals/blog entries on clay and pottery. I got in touch with friends from the pottery community and asked for the rates and costs of glazing and firing services. Because our school community opened an alternative class day and health and wellness programs, I signed up and became the proponent for pottery. I cleaned up my old pottery kit and bought new ones. I have a dedicated schedule for handbuilding and when the opportunity presents itself, I gather friends to “clay together”.

 As ARMY, my inspo for the designs, form and structure of hanbuilt pots and mugs are BTS songs, music and content. The ARMY Glow Up Campaign of TOB and ACPH became an avenue to share this experience with friends in TOB, old and new.

   4.      How do I know I am making progress: I have a rubric for pinch pots and basic handbuilding techniques. I follow the criteria and success indicators when I practice and do the actual shaping, sculpting and design of the products.

5.       Facing the blocks and bumps in the journey: Clay and the tools for handbuilding are fairly inexpensive. It is the glazing and firing processes that cost a lot. Since the benefits of clay and pottery outweigh the cost (at least for me), I have learned to schedule, plan and program my pottery sessions individually or with ARMY friends. There are days when I feel so anxious I need to sculpt and shape clay. I give in and just be. Now I have a box of pots, mugs and plates kept in the house. When the funds arrive, I select which of the products are for glazing and firing. I send them to my potter friends who collab with me on the color, the glazes and enhancement of the designs. Some products I generously give as gifts to friends and family. Most of them I sell for fund raising and for my AGU goal and recreational therapy to continue.

6.       Where am I now: Pottery is art. Art takes time. Handbuilding is an imperfectly beautiful technique to master but principles in design, symmetry and balance apply. As much as it is art, it is also discipline. In clay and pottery, I realized that the process is a continuum of the life-death-life cycle. I am learning to be patient. I am able to look at endings and beginnings of life journeys.

 As for skills in pottery, I am confident at making a plate or dish from slabbing techniques. I have yet to develop competence in creating an even mug with engravings and surface decorations. I am now capable of painting on my products using under glazes. I take pleasure and honor in sharing all the things I learned so far with friends, ARMY or non-ARMY.

7.       Where will I go from here: I will continue developing handbuilding techniques such as coiling and pinching. I need to study design and structural principles of sculpting clay. To learn wheel throwing and setting up my own pottery studio is a long-term plan; a dream I hope to actualize before retirement. ARMY daughter encourages me to sell in bazaars and art fairs. I am putting that in the short-term goal or a plan to be realized in three months’ time or less.

So, this is my work in progress, Jin. I am stretching my hands and running. Just a little bit more.

😊 It’s just me, Tita Zee 😊

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