I began 2011 with my goals firmly focused on building my coaching practice. At the same time, I wondered where making pots would fit into my year. At the time, I wasn’t too sure. As we approach the mid-year point, I look back at my journey and forward to my dreams.
The year started with a bit of rush to make pots for a February wood-firing. But the pressure (and weather) were a bit much. So I postponed the firing to spring. I then quickly realized that wouldn’t work either. My focus was off the pot. So I decided to scale back and go with one firing this year.
That means that I postponed my long making sessions, resulting in a bit of a barren desert for my pottery loving soul. Yes, I’ve gotten into the studio on occasion and worked on new forms as I have chronicled here and here and here. But each session in the studio was focused on making a few pots here and there and practicing for the Gulf Coast Clay Conference.
I’m not complaining. My choices at the beginning of the year led to this circumstance. But this approach concerns me for several reasons. First, talk about all your eggs in one basket. Wow – one firing for the entire year! I now know a bit how the Japanese felt.
Second pottery keeps me centered, as I have written about. So how do I stay centered with all that’s going on if I’m not getting into the studio?
Mother Nature to the Rescue
Making pots is one way I connect with nature. I hesitate saying that because it seems a lot of potters say this. But it is true for me. The feel of the clay in my hands. The forms as they come to life, inspired by the outside world. The colors. The flame dancing around the mud, hardening it into something solid and permanent. All of it calls to my spiritual connection with nature.
The spiritual sustenance, I gain from making pots and from being outside, all seem so intertwined. It is this spiritual connection that I have been hesitant to give up this year as I focus on other things. One doesn’t just walk away from their church. Yet I know I found my artistic voice in the only break I had from clay in the last 8 years. So I am hopeful that this break will bring new and better perspective to my work.
A few months ago, while sitting on the wild and woolly east end of St. John, it occurred to me that spending time in nature would honor my spirit and fuel my artistic inspiration when I couldn’t get to the wheel. That week, I soaked up the sun and explored the under world of the Caribbean with all its spectacular colors and shapes. I felt content and grounded. Not unlike my feeling when at the wheel.
More recently, I have been walking around my suburban neighborhood. Mostly there are sidewalks, but some blocks are bisected by an alleyway. I love walking these alleys. I feel like I am in a different world. Not only do I get to peak into people’s backyards, but I feel like I peak into a different century. Yards with no fences (seems odd for this So Cal girl), backyard gardens and even bee hives. When I walk these alleys, I don’t know that I am just a few miles from our nation’s capitol. And then there are the trees that line the alleys and the huge dandelions that might might make their way into a green juice or two.
These experiences in nature have helped ground me and inspire me as I have busied myself in my new career. I do miss the studio though. I am looking forward to a return. Maybe even today.
What the Future Holds
My firing is set for September. I have almost exactly 3 months to prepare. That means I am going to start ramping up my studio time.
This week, I started to contemplate what do I want to do with that kiln space. Something in Mississippi focused me. I realized that I wanted to ditch some of my forms. They just don’t mean that much to me anymore and are no longer fun to make.
I want to focus my next three months on just a few forms. Really perfect them. What’s staying?
- Definitely my Buddha Bowls.
- And my dancing pitchers, even though they aren’t particularly big sellers. I love the form and get so much joy from them.
- Also staying will be the small trinket plates. They ARE big sellers and I love making them.
- I’ve been making some squarish sandwich plates that I really like. I’m looking forward to stacking them on sea shells.
- And of course, I will have to make mugs and teabowls.
- The new basket form is a must. I realized in MS how much I love the form, even though I have not yet fired it.
- Teapots of course. So much work to do on that form.
- Finally, big bowls.
Beyond this list, I am stumped. Nothing else inspire me. But I like the idea of consolidating and focusing. I suspect my work will get better. Focusing on too much in 3 months seems like a recipe for disaster. So the future holds lots of focus. Focus. Focus.
The future also holds more nature inspiration as I sneak off to Costa Rica in July Who knows how that landscape will creep into my work.