Saturday, April 4, 2009

Rules and The Illusion Of Technique

Follow up to Jayne's follow up comment on the last post.

Good question about changing your hand position depending on the issue you are dealing with. The only thing that really matters is whether you are putting yourself in a position to succeed at what you are doing. I made a lot of noise on the last post about the important reasons for choosing one hand position over another. Always try to think of technique as a means to particular ends. Identify what you are trying to achieve and think of the best ways of getting there. Try to resist the feeling that technique is everything. If you place too high an importance on a particular way of doing things you become dependant on that technique. Only doing things one way only teaches you about how the clay responds to doing it that one way. That is why I tend to discourage a reliance on specific technique. Of course if you are paying attention you will learn greater things about the medium that are tangential to a procedure, but there seems to be a difference between learning what you can do with a particular technique and learning what you can do with the clay. Obsessing about technique and hand position will only get you so far. What really matters is how you are educating your hands. If your hands understand the clay then it doesn't really matter how you are holding them. You can use a knuckle, a sponge, a rib, or any 'tool'. When your hands have gotten to the stage of understanding the clay itself, not just understanding the clay mediated by this particular hand position, then the idea of technique melts away. You may find that throwing with your feet like Rob is even possible (afterall, he only is able to do this because he knows alot about the clay, not because there is some 'magic tecnique' for doing it).

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