We have all heard the terms left-brained and right-brained when referring to people. The left-brain group of people are into science and math, the right-brain group of people are creative, right?
Well I certainly consider myself creative and I am also a left-brained person. I like numbers, and totally get excited and geek out over science. For some reason this confuses people. They ask how I can like math and be an artist. Naturally my response is, “How could I make pottery without numbers!?!”
I have had many people be a bit taken back by how I can hand make sets. I make full dish sets, sets of mugs, nesting bowl sets and so on. I hear over and over again from fellow potters that they just can’t seem to make things match. Some even think I have to be using a jig or form. I am here to tell you I do not, I am simply a space alien hahaha. OK, maybe I’m not a true alien, but I do sometimes feel like I am a foreigner in the creative land.
I had a friend over last week and she asked me, “How do you get everything to match so well if it’s all done by hand every time, do you use a form?” Then I showed her how- it’s all in my sketch book. Most artists will have actual sketches in their sketch book. Mine has very few drawings at all; instead it is filled with numbers! That’s right; my sketch book is all glorious numbers!!! I love numbers! Every piece I make has a set of three numbers, one for how much wet clay I begin with, one number for how high the pot is, and one for its’ width. So every time I go to make a pot I check its numbers. I weight the clay out and then I sit down at my wheel. I make the pot at my wheel, and then I check it with my ruler to see if any adjustments need to be made (super high tech, I know hahaha). When I want to change a pot or form, I review and adjust its numbers until I get a result I like.
For some people this process is surprising as they feel math and science are not creative. I have to strongly disagree with this thought. I believe science and engineering are massively creative. It is the creative questions that are asked, the creative thoughts on how something could be that bring us our biggest breakthroughs. The idea of having electricity in our homes before anyone thought it was possible is so creative. The thought of black matter, the idea that the nothing is filled with an actual something is super creative. It is the testing and fact finding that takes our initial creativity and turns it into reality and science.
So can I get a great big high five from all my creative and artistic left-brained friends out there?
Ok, it’s kind of rude to leave my high five hanging here like this!
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Artist and Owner of Off Your Rocker Pottery