Somehow I’ve managed to find space to start making pots again. Just sort of fell sideways into them. I’m not one to push any particular websites, but my sister got me onto Pinterest and things changed. Videos of traditional pottery villages from Northwest India where they have done the exact same methods for thousands of years. Nepal, Iraq, Ecuador, Japan, China Korea. When I was in college (BFA Ceramics) we got to watch the 3 or 4 videotapes and reel films on the little imagery available from Japan. Images were only available (to me) from the pages of Ceramics Monthly and the few calendars that floated to the studio from conferences and materials salesmen. The only time we got to hear and watch what any particular potter made, they had to come to the school or we drove forever away and dropped money I didn’t have. Now there are literally thousands of videos on youtube. Most of the giants have passed or are nearing their ends. I skated around the images of Koneko and Leach, Makenzie and Robineau.
I got to watch them in their own shops doing their thing. No pomp, no nervousness of the large crowd staring on with eager hungry eyes. Just the potter and their clay. Finding their stillness and pulling the clay into form in ways I can only guess at. The ENTIRE George Ohr collection.
Mind you, this man was a genius of the level of his contemporaries like Tesla and Edison. He spoke clay with a Mississippian’s drawl in the 1890’s. He went crazy breathing the fumes of the lead glazes he made from shot gathered by his boys from Civil War battlefields. Totally barking mad at the end. Utterly forgotten. Showed his wares at the Chicago World’s Fair. Actually made them and fired them there too. Sent a vase to the Smithsonians telling them that he was the greatest potter in the world. That they should buy all his pots. Carved it onto the walls of a vase. That’s brassy. A hero I dreamed of once. A man in what was, in his time, a “woman” pastime. A powerful blacksmith turned to making these winged beauties from clay.
I’m no Ohr. I’m just some guy with no Plan B. No real, solid Plan A either for that matter. I walk among giants. Their footsteps are deep. Swimmin out into the deep end. The toughest part for me now, is figuring out what to make. The possibilities are limited only by function. If I don’t want to touch this thing to my face, then why would anyone else? Warren Mackenzie said that the things we interact in eating are among the most intimate things in human existence. They should be interesting to interact with, even when washing them after using. Who wants to eat off Styrofoam plates and those hateful red plastic cups? They make my soul hurt. Seeing how often they are what dinner was on back when I went into peoples lives on 911 calls. When emergencies happen, people drop everything. Literally dropped plates and cups on the floor. So I saw into lives I would otherwise never touch. All income brackets too. Paper plates and foam coffee cups. Just so they don’t have to wash them. Poof. Gone.
I knocked out a pretty good pile of cups and bowls with less than optimal clay that I’ve had here for at least 9 years. Ir froze and thawed out every one of those years. Fortunately the bags had no holes so the clay was workable once I broke up all the striations. The freeze/thaw had made the clay all plastic and delicious if a bit overly lumpy. Wedging muscles are not the same as building muscles. There is a bit of cross over with throwing muscles. They are hands and arms. Fingers mostly. And stillness. Wedging is a grueling chore until I get those muscles back too. The burning is in the backs of my arms. Milking the goat helps with the fingers. Fresh clay helps an awful lot. No striations. Like sandy cream cheese. Only a bit firmer.
Nothing has happened to the new coop. Well. Not 100% accurate. The chickens continue dust bathing in the sub floor. I’ve stepped on the rocket stove pipe that crosses in front of the door at least twice. It’s just what it is. Everything in it’s time. I’ve located 2 good sized stands on Phrag on the property across the street and a huge one by the stop sign across the creek. I think they may mow that spot. Certainly around there is mowed smooth. Former dairy. Now turned to seed. The barns are melting and the field is used on occasion to race 4-wheelers and snow mobiles. Life just is what it is.
This pottery thing really did sneak up on me. I’ve set the studio up so damn many times now with only a few pieces to show for it over the last 25 years. I’ve made more in the last few days than that entire period. One step, one step, one step.