Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Radio host and author Julie Burstein ’80 gave an inspiring TED Talk, entitled “4 lessons in creativity,” last February. “I realized that creativity grows out of everyday experiences more often that you might think,” she told the crowd.
Run time: 17:40. Watch this video on TED. Below is an excerpt from Julie’s talk:
“On my desk in my office, I keep a small clay pot that I made in college. It’s Raku, which is a kind of pottery that began in Japan centuries ago as a way of making bowls for the Japanese tea ceremony. This one is more than four hundred years old. Each one was pinched or carved out of a ball of clay and it was the imperfections that people cherished. Everyday pots, like this cup, take eight to ten hours to fire. I just took this out of the kiln last week. And the kiln itself takes another day or two to cool down. But Raku is really fast. You do it outside and you take the kiln up to temperature in fifteen minutes—it goes to 1,500 degrees. And as soon as you see that the glaze has melted, inside you can see that faint sheen, you turn the kiln off and you reach in with these long metal tongs, you grab the pot, and in Japan this red-hot pot would be immediately immersed in a solution of green tea. And you can imagine what that steam would smell like. But here in the United States we ramp up the drama a little bit and we drop our pots into sawdust, which catches on fire, and you take a garbage pail and you put it on top and smoke starts pouring out. I would come home with my clothes reeking of wood smoke.
“I love Raku because it allows me to play with the elements. I can shape a pot out of clay and choose a glaze, but then I have to let it go to the fire and the smoke. And what’s wonderful is the surprises that happen, like this crackle pattern, because it’s really stressful on these pots—they go from 1,500 degrees to room temperature in the space of just a minute. Raku is a wonderful metaphor for the process of creativity. I find in so many things that tension between what I can control and what I have to let go happens all the time. Whether I’m creating a new radio show or just at home negotiating with my teenage sons.”
Watch the video and read the blog post…
Image: Pavlina Perry.
Friendly URL: wesconnect.wesleyan.edu/news-20121127-julie-burstein
Like Julie Burstein on Facebook ➞