Clay Days

Mid-Summer                                                                                   Waning Honey Flow Moon

Five days of clay.  Whew.  What did I learn?  Well, I’m not holding my breath for that National Treasure for potting position when I turn 80.  Maybe by that time I’ll have learned how to center, raise a cylinder and throw a bowl.

We’ve made some new friends, including our instructor and I learned a lot about the craft of pottery making, a lot that will be useful when touring at the MIA.  Kate developed enough confidence to move forward with the work.  I learned enough to tag along, though with low expectations.  It was an intensive process and a good one.

We had a potluck today.  Kate and I took my two iron tea-pots and an assortment of tea cups.  Two Japanese potters on fellowship joined us, so I asked Rena what the bottom of my red, larger tea-pot said.  She looked at it, fingering the kanji, smiled and said, “Made in Japan!”  Oh.  I asked Naota what he thought of the U.S. and he said, “Comfortable.”  He comes from Tokyo and likes the slower pace of life here.

One of the women in the class, Claire, has 25 years of pottery experience and a studio in the Northern Clay Center, another, Alisha, teaches pottery making in high school.  And so on.  Kate and I were at the opposite end of the learning spectrum.  We didn’t know enough to recognize that the class was for way advanced folks.  Still, seeing others with skills working and taking lessons from a master potter was a learning of its own.  At this level a lot of the instruction was on small technical aspects like really focusing on centering, or learning how to cut a tea-pot spout so the uncoiling of the clay in the kiln will move the spout to the right position. (You cut it at a 4:30.)

This was an immersion in another world, the world of potters, molding clay as our mutual ancestors have done for several thousand years.  A craft and an art tied to the earth and seasoned by fire, to know those who make pottery is a window in to our deep past, yet an activity still very much in the present.

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