Michael Kline just posted on his blog a step in a different direction and made the connection that pots are sometimes like shoes. Of course that’s something I have to get my grubby little fingers on and ramble away with! If I can’t steal other people’s good ideas and run amok where would I be on this blog?
Here’s what Michael said:
As I pulled the little handles off the side of the pot I literally flipped the attachments above rather than below the attachment in a fit of spontaneity and experimentation. It was quite a little thrill. [private wooohoo moment]
I know, ha-ha, sometimes I can be a little full of myself or melodramatic.
Anyway, all this just to say that I went with it and kind of like it! But like a new pair of shoes (which I really need, btw) it takes a while to get used to it. This ain’t exactly Catawba Valley shape language anymore. I even hesitated to share this little odd pot with you! But, hey, it’s just pottery, right?
This was my response:
I like it MK! Its different, for sure, but like those new shoes if you give them some wear it will start to conform more to your ‘feet’ and you will quite possibly start to ‘walk’ with a new freedom. I sometimes feel the ‘shoes’ I’m wearing have become threadbare and have holes in the toe. They might smell a bit funky at times too.
I guess you can’t just pick up any old size new shoe. There has to be something of a minimal fit. We can even layer on more pairs of socks to make the fit better. Winter boots may even require that we buy our shoes with that in mind. We may actually NEED shoes that don’t fit us properly.
But the style of new shoe we can learn to be comfortable in will often surprise us. There will be shoes that tell you immediately “Its not me”, and others that you won’t even dare to put on, but somewhere outside our comfort zone there are still so many shoes we can explore and try on. Walk about in them a bit and see what they do for you. Is your posture any different? Do you feel like you are walking on clouds? Do you feel like you can outrun the dogs in your yard? Are they such a natural fit that you hardly even notice that you are wearing them? How will we know until we try them on?
And if it sometimes means we need to change that bit about ourselves to fit the way the new shoes work, then maybe that’s alright too. Having dancing shoes in my closet might mean I’d go dancing more often. Maybe I sometimes DO need to wear dress shoes. Maybe I sometimes also need to wear flip flops. Where would I be without my soccer cleats? The interesting thing is that we can put ourselves in different situations where wearing different shoes is entirely appropriate and eventually even becomes natural.
For instance, when I teach I take it as an excuse to try on as many new shoes as I need my students to see me in. I might even change shoes during class. I can’t just wear the same old shoes to every class or they will feel the only shoes that are right are the ones I’m wearing. I’m supposed to be setting an example for them, so why would I only show them a narrow version of possibility? There is no rule that says you can only wear THESE shoes when you are in the studio. If you show them the variety of possible footwear they will have the confidence to explore their own aesthetics in what they like about shoe designs. They will learn to express themselves with more freedom when they are wearing shoes and making pots.
I may do this mostly for my students but I also do it for myself. If I feel I’ve been stuck wearing the same old shoes for too long its a perfect opportunity to explore something different, without the burden of feeling that these familiar shoes are the only ones I can walk out to potential customers or students in and earn my living. It often turns out I can be wearing all sorts of shoes and my customers and students will still respond to me. I can teach in different shoes and my students will still learn valuable things.
Isn’t that a great thing about shoes? We CAN wear different ones at different times and in different circumstances. And we can be adaptable and learn to follow our own instincts outside our shoe wearing habits. We can do this without the fear that we are necessarily alienating our friends and our audience.
I sometimes worry that the comfort of old shoes carries with it a funk that is hard to scrub clean. Some customers I interact with see me standing there in the same old shoes and walk back out the door. They don’t even look around, because they already know what they are getting. Maybe they scent that inevitable whiff of pungent overuse. The habit of wearing this one set of shoes accretes stains and spilled coffee just from the longevity of having been on my feet through so much and for so long. Some customers look at my feet and are turned off. They can’t see what I’m trying to do with my pots because their focus is on the lazy commitment to this one pair of shoes. They’d sometimes actually prefer me wearing something new, something fresh, and maybe even something that wasn’t yet a perfect fit. I can’t let myself be ruled by the folks who expect the same old same old, and who would prefer me going to my grave still wearing these ancient shabby sneakers…….
I’ve also noticed that as I get older my feet have changed, and I now have to wear slightly longer shoes. Wider as well. There are evolving things about me that require bigger shoes, like my arch starting to flatten out and the bunions and heel spur that I’ve grown. I’ve gone from a size 7.5 to a size 9.5 in just a matter of years.
We can’t just keep wearing those same old shoes year after year, can we? Don’t we naturally evolve as we age? If we attempt to freeze time isn’t that pretending something unnatural? Isn’t it important to put our own needs ahead of the fixation on wearing simply one set of shoes? Who is leading whom? Which is the cart and which the horse? Don’t we have the obligation to ourselves to wear many shoes if that makes sense to us? Or a selected few that give us a range of motion? Who are we wearing these shoes for in the first place?
Gotta love shoes! Pots are pretty cool too (heh, heh)……
Hope you all get to treat yourselves to some new shoes, start dancing in different ways and discover new things about yourselves!