Thursday, February 4, 2010

Things I have learned from pottery class

Things are still a little nutso around here. The good news is that my grandmother is being moved into a skilled nursing center (NOT a nursing home, the different of which is unknown to me, but whatever). This makes us all breathe a sigh of relief because things did not get better at the hospital. She was not happy – actually, she was convinced the nursing staff hated her. No one should be made to feel that way, especially not an old woman in a lot of pain.

Anyway, rather than dwell on my anger with them, I wanted to present the following list.

Things I have learned from pottery class:

1. Lifting weights is a good thing. Throwing pottery on the wheel is an art and a skill. It’s also a workout. A pound of clay might not look like much, but it takes a lot more pressure than you’d think to move it around. There’s pulling and pushing and lifting. There’s also coordination. You’ll often have both feet controlling the spinning and both hands beating the mound into submission at the same time. All the while, if you’re as petite as me, you’ll be using your abs to pull yourself forward and your thighs to bear down. And then you’ll wonder why you quit going to the gym.

2. Bruises are badges of honor. I appear to be the most battered member of the class. I have scratches on my pinky fingers from the wheel head. I have bruises on both knees from pulling forward against the wheel’s body. After my first week, I had a bruise on both halves of my booty from the way I have to angle my diminutive frame on the bench. (For the record, “diminutive” refers to my height and not the size of my big ol’ rumpus.) The latter was the worst, but it’s gone now. Everything else I wear with pride. They wouldn’t be there if I wasn’t busting tail (literally) in pottery class.

3. It isn’t wonky; it’s organic. When I’m finally able to share shots of my handiwork, it will not look like the polished, beautiful items one might buy from an actual professional (such as my teacher). I haven’t yet figured out how to make everything look contoured and textured rather than lumpy. But you know what? I don’t care! I made those three bowls with my own two hands. No, they’re not perfect, but I think they’re pretty amazingly wonderful and “organic” rather than smooth. And anyway, lumpy is still a texture, right?

4. Short nails are sexy. You should never attempt pottery with long nails. I keep mine pretty short anyway partly because I used to bite them as a kid, but also because I don’t like long nails aesthetically. They remind me too much of the Victorian ideal woman who would never lift a finger in her life and could therefore wear her fingernails long and lily white. My own issues aside, long nails are a big no-no in the world of pottery. They scrape your pieces. They tear on the wheel head. They get all kinds of ickiness trapped underneath them. Basically, don’t do it.

5. Messy jeans are essential. Because I have tiny, short legs, I have trouble finding jeans that are the right length. I refuse to have them hemmed or wear them too long, so I only buy petite or short sizes. This means all my jeans are from Express or American Eagle. Neither of these are particularly expensive brands, but I consider them clothing of some value. Since losing a few pounds/inches/whatever, the pairs I’ve had since college are mostly too big. I hate to waste perfectly good jeans by not wearing them, but the truth is that they do not look good on me anymore. The solution: cover them with clay! They are baggy enough to be comfortable, but I don’t have to worry about ruining jeans I wear all the time. Smearing that first swipe of drippy clay across my left leg felt so freeing. Next up, maybe – gasp! – paint.

6. Letting go. Some things in life are never – or at least almost never – past the point of repair. Most of us have friendships that can go to the brink of devastation only to recover as if nothing happened. Cleanliness is like that, too. Sure, a house left unscrubbed for an excessive period of time is no easy cleaning task, but it’s never impossible. Other things are like throwing pottery. You start with a lump of clay, and at that moment, so much is possible. You center it, you shape it, you make it taller and shorter, but eventually you can screw it up past the point of redemption. It’s actually a pretty dern easy thing to do, which results in a big ol’ stack of wet, discarded almost-bowls or nearly-vases. You learn pretty early that there is only so much you can do to save what could have been the Greatest Mug Ever. Then you either scrape it dramatically from the wheel head or play with the ugly beast until you’re ready to remove it. The good news is that your result may not be a bowl, but it’s still clay. After it dries out a little, it could be a bowl another day.


Robin Thomas said...

Good post. Hope Grandmumdoesbetter with the staff at the new place. So not fun. So very not fun. ENjoy your clay. I love my necklace so much.

Anonymous said...

It is a gorgeous big ol' booty, and I hear some guys actually like short nails more than long ones...

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Tulsa, OK, United States
Hello! Welcome to my blog, which I run in conjunction with my Etsy shop, Here, I'll track things I'm working on, do reviews and interviews, and offer advice and information. Thanks for stopping by!

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