I think the first thing I really had to learn when I started out as a beginning potter was patience. There is a lot I could say here, but that’s not what I’m thinking about right now. Probably the second life lesson clay had to teach me was the impermanence of things and how to deal with their loss. Potters get to know this one really quickly. Most of us start out with an exaggerated attachment to the pots we make, and as more and more of them get sacrificed to the learning curve and the sheer accidental losses of the process we learn to get over the ‘precious pot syndrome’. The fact that we have so much time and effort and imagination invested in each of these creations eventually is overshadowed by the knowledge that we can make them all again, and that newer ones will most likely be better than what we lost.
And when we eventually come to live surrounded by pots, handmade by ourselves and others, we experience again how short lived some of these objects can be. And then we have to relearn just how temporary some of them are, and that ones made by others are not always replaceable. A chip here, an accidental drop in the sink, all sorts of natural hazards face a hand held used piece of pottery.
Well, this morning I had an unexpected surprise. It is somewhere in the mid ’70’s here in Athens GA, and I decided to open my windows and doors and do a little ‘Spring’ cleaning. My kitchen is full of pots, and all these dust collectors were overdue for a good cleaning. Well into it I reached for one of my all time favorite pots, probably my favorite by my old instructor Michael Simon, a small wood fired paddled hut jar that I picked up at his studio many years back. After putting it on my kitchen table I noticed that there were some clay crumbs near where I had put it, and then I saw where they had come from.
Not just the rim, but one of the feet is crumbling. And this just from sitting on my shelf over the Winter. Drat! I had had problems with teapot spouts and some of the rims of his cups chipping, but this is a first. I guess this one was really under fired! Once upon a time I would have been wrecked. The pot was amazing and irreplaceable now that Michael is no longer working. Now I am better at dealing with it. It had a great life in my kitchen for many years. Back when I was storing herbs and what not in the jars in my kitchen I used this one for thyme. It still smells like it. Good memories of good times in the kitchen and the beauty it has brought me. I will find a spot for it somewhere else in the house where I can still admire and learn from it. You win some and you lose some, I guess, and learning to let go is a lesson all potters have to deal with.
Any stories out there to be shared?