I signed up for a pottery class earlier this winter at a place called Mighty Mud. I already knew the instructor, Wendie, from the local triathlon circuit.
The first morning Wendie introduced us to each other and to throwing pottery. One of the first steps before we got to the wheel was dividing our 20 lb blocks of clay into manageable pieces. To do this we used our wire tool to cut smaller blocks off of the main block. As I pulled my wire down and through the clay my line went screwy. Immediately exasperated I said out loud, “Wow, that’s real straight.” Wendie looked over at me with an expression that I thought looked like part fear and part amazement as though she was trying to process how somebody could be so harsh about something so insignificant and how she could deal with them early on Saturday morning. That is what I saw on her face, but all she actually said was “You’re going to be kind of hard on yourself about this aren’t you?”
At that point I realized it didn’t matter how square the edges were on my blob of clay and told myself to let go.
That first day was very exciting. In a few short hours I went from having zero experience to forming structures that resembled geo ducks to bowl like objects.
Session 2 was even better. Armed with a little bit of knowledge and slightly better form, I could tell I was making progress.
Session 3 was tough. My pots kept collapsing. What didn’t collapse was ugly. Geo ducks were no longer acceptable.
Session 4 was back on track. I could kind of convince the clay to go the way I wanted it to go. Up or out…
Each Saturday when I left I usually felt ok about what I had made, but when I got back the next Saturday, it was like someone had replaced my pots with something slightly better.
I did this? Heh. I did this.
There were so many pieces on the racks to be fired that it was sometimes hard to identify which pieces were mine. I seriously didn’t think that would be a problem. I made this with my hands. I spent quality time with this clay. We have a connection, a bond…
At last when I returned to pick up my masterpieces, shining in their glaze, there were a couple pieces that I passed over because they looked “too good” to be something I made. When I re-checked, there were my initials.
I did this.