A belated Thanksgiving lesson

As I was preparing my breakfast I set my plate on the counter so I could finish stirring my meal on the stove. A few seconds later I hear a crash behind me and I turn to behold my beautiful Ron Meyers plate, MY FAVORITE and most used, in pieces on the floor…..

The warthog looks on in disgust and disapproval....

The warthog looks on in disgust and disapproval….

After about 30 seconds of intense cursing, teeth gnashing, and heart rending trauma (a childish tantrum, in other words) I think I’ve calmed down enough to realize how impermanent these things are, and that I am more thankful for the time we had together than upset at the loss. I am more thankful that the many nights of frozen pizzas were brightened having been served on this work of handmade art. I am more thankful that when it came to choosing a plate to eat from I had reason to choose beauty and intrigue rather than some anonymous plastic or mass manufactured conveyance.

This pot existed to make my life better. It existed to make my life more meaningful. It gave me choices by allowing me to care. It showed me that small things do matter in the world. And as I prepare for another weekend selling my own pots I can only hope that the pots I send out into the world have as full and meaningful lives as this plate did in my own kitchen…..

I give thanks to the art in my life for making this so, and I give thanks to the people around me who make art welcome in their own lives. By small increments we make the world a more livable place.

Nothing like breaking some pottery to put things in perspective!

Peace all!

Make beauty real!


About Carter Gillies

I am an active potter and sometime pottery instructor who is fascinated by the philosophical side of making pots, teaching these skills, and issues of the artistic life in general. I seem to have a lot to say on this blog, but I don't insist that I'm right. I'm always trying to figure stuff out, and part of that involves admitting that I am almost always wrong in important ways. If you are up for it, please help me out by steering my thoughts in new and interesting directions. I always appreciate the challenge of learning what other people think.
This entry was posted in Art, Beauty, Ceramics, Creative industry, metacognition, Pottery. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to A belated Thanksgiving lesson

  1. Every morning I think of you while scooping coffee beans out of a jar you made, many breakfasts and lunches have been shared with you via a plate you made, many warm cups of tea have relaxed me in the evening, enjoyed out of a yunomi you made. Each piece of pottery is an art form that connects the user with the maker. So much joy and great memories are created in the time shared.

    Good luck with your show, I have one in Decatur so I won’t be able to visit.

  2. Brandon Phillips says:

    Better to have loved and lost. Around here if pots break and I can glue them back together I do that and put them on a shelf for honorable retirement. I don’t get the pleasure of using them but we still get to visit.

    • That’s great Brandon! Thankfully this plate is still mostly intact. I hope I can still use it just missing that little piece…

    • I just did this with a 16 year old Blair Meerfeld bowl. Pulled it down from the cupboard the other day and discovered it had a long hairline crack in it — it was pretty close to falling in two. Sad to take it out of rotation, but it served us well all that time, and is a very nice addition to the reference collection.

      • Update on the warthog: Despite missing a good chunk the darn thing is still the best size and best surface for some of my go-to meals. No chance in hell I’m taking it out of the rotation unless it gets maimed more substantially than that!

        • Nice! As long as you can keep the food off the glued spot, why not, right?

        • No glue, no repair! I’ll eat off that broken shard before I put a scrap of food on any other plate.

          I can only hope that when my pots are broken into tiny bits their owners still attempt to use them, drinking fast out of leaking mugs, and shoveling food into their mouths with bowl-like chunks of rim….. When using handmade pottery matters, there is no better evidence than that someone will continue to use it despite its imperfections and functional liabilities. Using whole pots is easy. The real test of value is using things that are broken. Dolls without arms, a toy car missing its wheels…. Things that are ends in themselves rather than means to ends can have this quality.

        • … he said, through a bloody mouthful of frozen pizza. Ha!

          Yeah, I get what you mean. But if any pot is worthy of getting stitched back together with golden staples, it’s one like that. Maybe after it’s in five or six pieces?

  3. Farewell, Mr. Warthog. We hardly knew ye!

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