I love clay. I love the way it squishes between your fingers and sticks to your skin and creates a wonderfully, horrific mess. I love the way you can pound and smash a huge pile of clay on bad days. I love the way you can mold and stretch and break and tear and still create something beautiful. I love how even the most delicate touch, the softest imprint of your finger leaves a mark. I love how clay can withstand the fiercest temperatures yet fold gently beneath your skin. I love how you start with a crazy mixture of dirt and water and mix and slosh and churn it into one of the most resistant substances on the Earth.
In clay, I find escape. I relieve my fears, my anxieties and my problems by just taking a huge chunk and beating it into submission. I can forget the world while gently smoothing the surface of my current project. I can revel in being covered in sludge half-way up my arms. In Ceramics class—that’s normal. In fact, pretty much everything is okay in Ceramics class. You lose yourself in the moment and just create.
Pottery can be the most frustrating yet rewarding experience. The slightest pressure on the wrong finger, the simplest movement to the wrong side, can completely destroy your work. Yet if you coax it gently, with the right amount of water and the correct placement of hands, you find yourself creating something incredible. These are not objects simply for staring at—though many do just that. They are plates and bowls and casserole dishes and pitchers made just by you! When serving a meal, you are using pieces that you have cared for since their beginning in a mixing vat. You have wedged it, shaped it, decorated it, trimmed it, fired it, glazed it, fired it once more and finally welcomed it into your home.
However, the amount of work you put into a project never quite guarantees the outcome. You can slave for hours on perfecting elegant handles for your lovely fourteen-inch serving platter to find that it has cracked. Or you could accidentally trim a hole right through your prized bowl. Or you could spend days trying to throw a lovely set of eight bowls that match in every respect until you accidentally put an elbow through one. In these instances, there is only one thing to remember. It is my favorite ceramics motto and helps in even the direst circumstances. You simply breathe deeply and say to yourself, “It’s okay, I can make another one.”
Regardless of the pains and frustrations, what I love most about pottery will always remain the same. The fierce beauty of pottery can only be attributed to the passion that is poured into it. Each piece conveys something of the potter’s character. I believe that this act of creation, this giving of yourself, this freedom of expression is truly the most important thing you can experience in life.
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