January Kicks Off With Some Attention to Clay

I like January. It’s not a popular month, I think – maybe because the many events in December leave everyone tired out. And new beginnings can have their own kind of pressure. But I like January. And it’s the first month of a plan I’ve developed for the whole year. Now, I don’t have all the details, as I’m making up things as I go along, to some extent. But I’ve decided to make each month special this year, each one having its own activities and themes and projects. I’m not talking about the holidays already on the calendar, although I might borrow from them. I mean that I’m going to have a whole year of Claudia-festivals and events. Things I like to do, things that I want to do and maybe haven’t gotten to, and things I’m maybe curious about or have been promising myself to try.

And I mean to enjoy every activity. Nothing appears on the Claudia-festival lineup that she doesn’t like doing.

Last but not least, I’m not over-planning. Just a few things for each month. And if I decide I want to drop an activity, well, I can just do that.

So now you have the background for one of my plans for January. In the spirit of new beginnings, I have returned to my clay work, after having done no clay since my hand surgery in May, 2013. I’ve given a lot of thought to this medium and what I want to be doing with it. In the past I was focused on improving my work and making items with the intention of selling them. I tried lots of different projects.

Now, I want to do two things. I still want to sell some of my work, and I’ve decided to focus on tiles. I really enjoy making them, and I enjoy the shows that I go to that feature them. I like making series of tiles and themes – it takes time to work through some of my ideas. Tiles are just great for this way of working.

I also want to make what we’ve called “goddess” figurines. I’ve been making them for some years, all kinds of sizes. Each one has a personality and I love the process of making a figure and seeing it reveal itself. The figurines don’t sell well, though, and in the past that discouraged me. So now I’ve decided to think about things differently.

All along, people see to have viewed them as protectors, confidants, meditation figures. One woman told me she intended to put the group she bought on her desk at work so that there would be somebody on her side when things got rough in the office. I gave one to a friend of mine who put her to work keeping an aggravating neighbor in check.

Back in the summer, my family and I placed three figurines in a little rocky grotto area in a park along a trail where I run. It had become an informal spot for remembrances, it seemed – there were other objects set there – tiles, wind chimes, a big painted wooden face. The three figures lasted about three months and then were gone. Not broken, as there were no pieces – I believe someone needed them and took them. That was great, I thought. We put three more in place. A couple of times I ran by and saw that someone had put a pile of change in front of them – the money stayed there until this group, too, were gone. Once again, no pieces – so I know someone needed them and took them along.

I have three more to put in place when I can get to the park again. And all of this gave me an idea about my figurines. I decided no longer to sell them. Just give them to people who seem to need encouragement, who I want to thank or appreciate, or who just like them and express an interest. And I also want to continue setting them out in public. People do seem to like seeing them, and if someone wants to take them home, I hope they will do so.

So I’ve been working. For one of my January activities, I’ve designated it as “Clay Each Day” month. I hope to make something in clay each day (one tile counts!). And at the end of the month, I should have plenty for firing.

Here are some photos of my clay work so far, on the shelves in the basement where it is stored to dry or to await a firing. I have two sets of figurines. The larger ones are for me to give to someone, whoever wants or needs one. They are bigger, and I have also decided to give each one some item to hold, representing something that I think is important – a house, a bird, a wrench – they all mean something.

The smaller ones are for leaving around wherever I think they might fit in – they have open hands and are ready to do whatever work they need to do!

So if you feel you need a figurine…you know who to ask…


4 thoughts on “January Kicks Off With Some Attention to Clay

  1. agnesashe

    January is often a difficult month, but your very positive and optimistic post has lifted my gloom. Thank you and wishing lots of energy for your projects.

  2. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you, it makes my day to hear this! Each month has its own challenges, I think, and for different people. For me, I find March difficult. Our weather is still gray and cold, and spring is slow to come – but we are tired of winter. I am looking forward to seeing how my “festival” idea works for that month and what I will be doing.

  3. Jeanette Clawson

    I just posted yesterday about January and intentions https://lunanista.wordpress.com/. I have started back into making art seriously in the last year and the first 6 months were just about my own sanity – not the product. I love how your relationship with your art has shifted. I have read about people who are starting to share their art in this way and I find it so uplifting. I have made little notes that I’m leaving in library books. It kind of feels like magic to me.

  4. Claudia McGill Post author

    I have spent a lot of time making art for myself, yes, but also very much for others and what I thought might be their expectations. I am happy to have reached this point where I feel I have enough of whatever it is to be able to share or give away, and it has changed the way I feel about my work. I love the notes in library books. I know I would be very happy to find one in a book like that.

    I agree with the magic feeling. It’s freeing to be able to do this.

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