The Birth of Ruby – Casting
This isn’t a tutorial, just a loose documentation of the process that every porcelain Enchanted Doll undergoes to become truly enchanted. And porcelain. Through a stream of consciousness I’ll try to explain the way the process makes me feel when I’m engaged in it, in hopes that it will convey the mental state behind the work.
Casting is pretty technical, but still the easiest part of the process. Most of the session is executed through pure muscle memory: my motions are rehearsed, mechanical, fluid and efficient. It’s like meditation: all problems and mental anxieties are deliberately moved aside, my mind is almost at rest, calm, collected, relaxed, yet acutely self aware, while my hands are executing a delicate dance of the molds and the scalpel.
I hardly even think about what my movements are any more; I know exactly what I’m doing and my hands lead they way. Focusing on my work causes a simultaneous detachment from it. The trance. Knowing how to cast porcelain slip is a small achievement in life, but knowing it gives me the ability to manipulate this medium into the forms of my desire. I feel in control, in my element. Everything goes according to plan, my plan.
By now I’m so attuned to the process, that any irregularity which may signal trouble is felt instinctively through subtle changes in its mechanics, such as small fluctuations in the weight of the molds, the handling of the slip, the particular way in which the scalpel slices through wet porcelain. All of these little things talk to me and I understand the language of the medium and respond to its needs accordingly, almost entirely on autopilot. When I feel myself curiously detached from what I’m doing, I know I’ve gone into the Flow-and the Flow is the nirvana of work, a higher state of being.
Taking out the parts is just as automated as casting, but the head, and more so the hands, require I switch off the autopilot and put my mind back in manual. Separating the fingers is a delicate and tricky work that produces different results every time. The face requires post casting touch ups as well and demands full concentration.
Cleaning up is a ritual that puts a physical and symbolic closure to each casting session. The clean up is as rehearsed and automatic as the casting, but as I methodically wash my desk and my tools and my hands, my mind is refreshed and my thought process is restructured as I emerge out of the casting-induced trance.
The last thing I do is rub some lotion on my hands to counter the dehydrating effects of porcelain slip, and as I do that, I can feel my constant companions, the daily anxieties of an artist return to me.
This entry was posted on Thursday, November 11th, 2010 at 1:51 am
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