Here are a couple random things that delighted me recently. They were found at the Spring Art Festival downtown this last weekend. I first came across Mystic Pieces, out of Phoenix (she’s on Etsy.com). The artist creates jewelry out of old antique watch clocks, which thrills me. We had a great chat about leaving the normal world of upper management and reliable paychecks to enter the manic one of self-promotion, gigs, bills (and paying them through art…or not paying them, because of art), backward schedules and how long it has been since we could afford to see a movie in the theater. It was a lovely moment that only a festival experience can provide.
Next up was the much sought-after Wonky Mug. I feel as though I’ve been scouring the earth for years in search of coffee mugs that stray from smooth, clean lines, shiny finishes, and (in some cases) generally sound logic. I found a couple mugs over a year ago that captivated me and happened to be the right price. The look was perfect. The design? Laughably bad. The handle is all wrong and one inevitably sustains major burns while using it. Seared flesh scares me not, however. A good mug is worth martyrdom. And now I have finally found another good mug. No martyrdom required.
The artist is Tom Alward, a Prescott local who, through his studies in Flagstaff, was awarded a grant to design and build a wood-burning kiln on campus. Through his work and recognition, he received other grants and studied in Virginia and Australia, experimenting with different indigenous clays. The thing I love most about his work is that he is a creator who almost seems like a messenger or mediator for a natural artistic process. He fires the kiln so hot that the ashes actually melt and create designs that are inconsistent, hugely diverse, and undeniably unique. The shapes of his objects are imperfect and organic and unapologetic, and they have an extremely satisfying weight to them.
I would like to think it’s a bit like the song writing process: when you start, you think you have the means and the ability to just write a little song, but during the process, the damn thing takes on a shape of its own, so to speak, and there are little discoveries and directional changes on the way to the end product. You end up somewhere unrecognizable, but it’s fun and it keeps your interest as a writer. I hope I’m correct in drawing this parallel…except that a finished song might have parts or phrases or chords that never sound right in the end and sometimes the whole thing is just a miserable failure. I’m guessing that doesn’t happen to Tom Alward.
Maybe his ceramic process isn’t as unusual as it sounded to me; I know nothing about ceramics. However, I know exactly how hard it is to find a good Wonky Mug of high craftsmanship, so I couldn’t be happier that this funky mustachioed potter, this crazy clay Creator, is out there (not too far away) melting his pretty ashes into little holy grails.
And that this fallen songstress got her hands on one of them.