wandering from the path

Radio 4 reported on research into how the brain does creativity last week. Mostly, the brain tries to get answers as quickly as possible – it takes the fastest, shortest path. It’s when the path gets diverted, slowed down, around those pesky brain cells in the cortex, that creativity happens.
glaze testsIt kind of explains mindfulness, and meditation. Ways to slow down and steady the brain, stop it being so arrow-like. And knitting, which does it for me. Not all hand-eye coordination tasks force the brain to slow – playing computer games certainly doesn’t. I don’t know about sport – is it too all-absorbing? I’d be interested to know from any of you.
shellac tests So I think some kind of material has to be involved – like writing with a quill, or knitting, or working with clay. Anything where you can’t speed it up with practice, where the material itself forces you to pay attention, slow down.
shellac testsThis has been working for me, while making test pieces for glaze – small items with text, that don’t take too much space in the kiln. It includes writing with shellac (more about that here), which is hard – the shellac dries out quickly, so the thickness is inconsistent, and the paintbrush stiffens up quickly too. But instead of trying to fix this I’m trying to embrace it – use it to slow down the brain. In that slow state I started just using o and x – finding them increasingly interesting to write.
shellac testThe processes of ceramics force the brain to slow down, as well: the oxo tokens have to be dried and fired before I can see what they look like glazed. So in the interim I’ve taken another divergent path: glazing some plain test pieces, and getting some interesting effects. Backgammon anyone? I think I just solved one Christmas present problem.
backgammon token
backgammon token


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