Design/Planning Vs Nature

How much does the nature of the material influence the final work? This is the basic crux of my investigation; ‘It’s the whole wheel-thrown verses slip-casting debate’ as Braun-Dahl confirms in an article from her blog, The Difference Between: Wheel Throwing verses Slip Casting, (2011) ‘is one better than the other?’ (ibid). Many traditional potters abhor the forced manipulation of clay during slip casting, favouring a sympathetic, natural touch achieved during throwing. Jim Malone, who produces his work by throwing believes it’s ‘a question of not getting in the way too much and letting the material speak’ (Malone, J. 2011). Slip casting necessitates considerable involvement from the human hand and machine; lots of planning. There is little opportunity to ‘allow the material to speak’ for itself (ibid).

With this in mind I want to bring this issue of planning vs nature into the question of research. As I begin to understand my practice clearer I have realised that when it comes to making work I am an Extreme Adaptive: super organised, driven and risk averse. Much unlike the Extreme Creative; highly disorganised and a risk taker.


But can this scale be used to quantify the methods of making to throwing and slip casting? Well I think it can. Below I have attempted to demonstrate where the methods of slip casting and throwing sit on the scale of adaptivity (planning) versus creativity (nature).


Slip casting is highly planned, low risk and manipulates the material extremely to produce an outcome. Throwing is much more risky as the material can only be manipulated successfully in limited ways; an element of planning is still essential in order to achieve a successful outcome.

So which one will it be? ‘Is one better than the other?’ (Braun-Dahl, 2011). By performing studio based research and exploring the existing methods of ceramicists past and present I hope to unpick this making journey and reason as to whether planning and design are better than nature.


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