Imposing limits for an artist is counterintuitive to their unending imagination and soaring desire to create and love everything there ever was and ever could be.
White clay, brown clay, red clay, blue clay, speckled clay, plain clay. Then red glaze, blue glaze, black glaze, and thirty shades of turquoise. Add to that big wheels, little wheels, wood tools, rubber tools, and all the squeezers, stampers, squishers and mushers that were ever made.
Fast forward a decade (or two) when we have empirically accepted the mortal limits of time, money, energy, and space. That... should be when the real magic starts to happen.
Limits, imposed though they may be, force us to explore what we have more deeply. I can only keep about three types of clay in a studio and a dozen glazes without going logistically insane. I often have to say no to special studio requests, and as much as I hate that, I also know the benefits.
In my thirteenth year of clay, I am STILL exploring glazes and materials I started with as a beginner. I, of course, tried many other techniques along the way, but have let them go. Somewhere around five years in, I made that profound personal discovery of creating beauty with the clays and colors I already had. Not only has my creativity not dampened, I find these limits have actually freed it.
Glazes, by the way, are similar to primary colors on a color wheel in that new combinations of the basic ones we have will create very amazing effects. (Unlike a color wheel though, what they create is not straightforward or predictable. This is why I'll be spending a good chunk of my summer break creating a combination glaze chart for the studio).
So the mug in the picture above is a happy accident of glaze overlapping that involves an old matte glaze from my first couple of years and a mislabeled bag of dry glaze that I would never have tried in this combination if it hadn't been mislabeled. I've started experimenting using this effect and am excited to see how it plays out with our studio clays, our Stafford iron oxide, and our most popular types of pots in the shop.