Thursday 28 November 2013

The Importance of Time-Sharing

I share my studio with my son. The studio is much more messy at the end of the day, but I am able to work and he is having fun. He has his own small working place. He already knows the difference between stoneware and porcelain, which tools he is allowed to use and where to find my clay stamps. He also has his cosy area on the wide window bench where he can take the break from the clay. 

There are, however, some things I still prefer doing alone. Glazing is one of them. I don’t feel comfortable having my boy around while working with all these chemicals. Also, I need to be completely concentrated during the whole glazing process. So, when I have to glaze, I wait until he goes to bed at night.

A few days ago I had one of these glazing night shifts again. I finished glazing at 3 AM. Unfortunately I spent the rest of the night worrying about the pieces I glazed: Did I really clean the bottom of that cup? What if that glaze wasn’t a good choice for that bowl? 

The best way to clear my head from these silly thoughts is to go for a walk at a nearby forest. It works every time. So the next day we went for a walk. Here are a few treasures from our walk. Aren’t these colours amazing?

Also, I hope that my kiln will give me few gems as well.

Saturday 16 November 2013

Environmental Impact

I have one huge electric kiln to fire my pottery. Everyone who has some experience with pottery kilns knows how much energy-consuming they are. I do not know if wood- or gas-fired kilns would be environmentally a better alternative. For me the decision to use an electric kiln was the only realistic solution, since I have a very small studio and we live in a relatively urban area. 

With every natural catastrophe in the world I feel grateful and lucky to live in such a safe place. Here in Switzerland so far we do not have many natural catastrophes. Thus, we have enough to eat and our homes are warm in the winter, etc. The water we drink is very clean comes from the nearest spring of water. Our lakes and rivers are relatively unpolluted. We breathe clear mountain air. However, I often ask myself if I contribute enough to preserve it this way!

Well, I run my errands by bike. We have a hybrid car. We have replaced many lights in the house by LED lightings. The biggest part of our lawn is “mowed” and “fertilized” by our neighbour’s sheep. I grow my own vegetables, fruits, berries and herbs. I separate glass, metal, paper and old electronics which I dispose of properly. I have a huge compost pile for the biological waste. I am trying to use the water sparingly by taking a shower instead of taking a bath. I collect the rain water to water the garden. But am I doing enough?

I don’t try to judge people who act differently. I can run my errands by bike because I have a small family. Also, I cannot imagine that a full-time working single mother has time to do the shopping by bike nor separate a metal and a paper from a tea bag. 

Luckily enough the environmental consciousness in Switzerland is comparatively high. I am trying not to think about global politics and about climate-change conferences which make me feel so helpless and really angry. Instead, I am telling myself that to be able to change global we have to make small changes first. Or am I just closing my eyes to the real problems this way? 

Finally, I don’t think this planet would be a healthier and happier place if I stop doing pottery because my kiln devours so much electricity. As the matter of fact, we live in the region of Switzerland that produces more than 90% of its electricity with hydropower! 

Well, it is about time to warm up my studio and turn on my electrical kiln again!