The Beauty Of Endurance
How does a pit-fired barnacle sculpture represent the beauty of endurance?

I'll tell you the story of why I started making this piece:

I intended to make vessel forms for my first pit-fire (seemed appropriate) but, when I started building, a tapering tower form came out instead of a vessel.  "Now why am I so drawn to towers over vessels?" I asked myself.  Myself answered "Because it's such a stable form."


Wet clay will buckle under too much weight, so as I'm building, I have to periodically stop and wait for it to dry out to keep going.  With a tower form I can build longer before having to pause.


Now the limitations of clay won't stop me from making interesting, intricate forms, but I started thinking about the inherent beauty of endurance and stability.  Crystals, snowflakes, honeycomb... they're some of the most beautiful things in nature and the whole purpose of their forms are to be stable structures. 

So, maybe we perceive these things as beautiful because humans are genetically programmed to be attracted to things that are stable?

I kept sculpting.

The tapering tower reminded me of a barnacle, so I made lengthwise creases in the clay to give it a more barnacle-y feel.  When I stepped back to look at it, I laughed (inwardly).  I'd made the form 6-sided like a honeycomb.  Layers of stability!


Then I knew I had to make a cluster of these forms (a whole room-full?)... "Cluster, Jenny, start with a cluster."  (Ok, ok, what a task-master, hmph.)  So here is about 2/3 of the finished cluster, and I'm loving it!  But, I was feeling conflicted about something:


Would there be nothing inside these strong, bone-like husks?  What are these forms doing? What is their purpose? Are they protecting a small, vulnerable, fleshy creature? Should I use something other than clay to create it?  Hmm... the answer came to me as I thought about how they'll look after being pit-fired.


The forms will look burnt, smoky, aged, ancient.  *lightbulb moment*  They'll look like whatever did live in them has been lost to the mists of time, remembered only by the poetry of these enduring relics of their life.


So, that's the story of this (in progress) piece.  The bittersweet beauty of endurance: 


Coral reefs, bleached and abandoned by global warming; fossil trilobites, frozen forever mid-crawl; strange barnacle creatures, scorched by fire and left as a poem to endurance, a relic of what could have been.


Wishing you a week full of beauty,
Jenny