Monday, September 1, 2014

Relationship Status with Ceramics

We're iffy. Ceramics and I. We're in a better place than we were last year, but not as tight as we've been before. It's okay. We're working through things.

I realize how silly it is to make this interest in ceramics out to be a relationship, but I can't help it. Clay is almost an entity to me. It has such a personality as a material. I've blogged before about how the Bible talks about God being a potter and us being the clay and I can certainly see characteristics in clay that I find in myself and other humans. Stubbornness. Weakness and strength. It takes a lot of patience to work with clay and a lot of attention too. In order to see something through to completion you spend a lot of time with it. That may be one of the things we potters like about our work. Before you send something out into the world to live with someone else you spend time with have a connection to your work and you send a piece of yourself out to live with someone else.

I think that relational component that I loved about ceramics is part of what makes it so hard to do ceramics right now. Or rather, the lack of that relational component is what makes it hard to be there. In school, at first, I was making pottery because I was in a new place and really scared and homesick. I found a lot of comfort in being at the studio. My favorite time to be there was when it was quiet and no one could see me working. It was like a refuge for me. But after switching into it as a major and especially after China it almost became as much about the relationships I made in the studio as it was about the work I was making. The studio was still my space. I loved having my own studio space and knowing I could go there at any time. It was like a second home. I probably spent more time there than at my own home. And as a result I got to know my classmates really well. I was so blessed to be around them as they taught me so much. They taught me about clay, themselves, about me, and encouraged and challenged me in many ways. They also took care of me in many ways too. I can't count the number of times people made tea for me, or helped me lift heavy things or make and bag clay, or fire kilns.

I miss that. I work a lot of hours during the week and when I have time to go into the studio I don't want to be there. I don't want to spend hours by myself with no one to be around. I still enjoy making things with clay. I enjoy some of the quiet times I get to spend in the studio. But I'm realizing that I don't see myself sustaining a studio practice without community. So how do I accomplish that?

Well, when I know I'll tell you. If you come up with an idea, let me know!

On the bright side, I've had several people ask to buy work from me recently and have been invited to participate in some craft fairs too. So I really need to buckle down, lonely or not, and make work and see what happens.

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