With any art form there are transformative aspects one can glean if they are open to it; I might go as far to say that personal transformation is inevitable if the artist is working towards mastering their craft. Mastery commands discipline, breaking through barriers and consistently stepping outside of what is familiar and comfortable which in turn builds character and elicits lessons one can apply to life.
Here are a few things I have unearthed (see what I did there?) while venturing into the world of pottery:
The first thing you have to learn is how to center the clay. If it’s not centered properly, you could set yourself up for a wobbly mess that starts looking like an innocent depiction of the leaning tower of Pisa and then without warning flops on the wheel like your best friend flopping on your couch for a nice venting session. Haphazardly throwing something together with little experience, effort or attention will likely produce a weak and structurally flawed vessel that could easily crack or break when it’s put through the fire. The more attention, strength and thought you put into it, the better chance you have to make something that will last. You are creating a container to hold space – similar to any kind of relationship. Do you see where I’m going with this?
Above is our potter, Marianne, making Blessing Jars
Here’s a snippet from a famous Bible verse that tells us what Love is:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
A potter must be patient. It doesn’t work when one tries to force the clay into moving before it’s ready. You have to learn how to be kind and accept failure: if self-critique goes too far the probability of overworking a piece and reaching devitalizing discouragement gets higher and higher. Meeting each new day with loving-kindness always propels momentum towards a positive outcome.
If I start to envy another potter’s technique or style with the, “I’ll never be as good as them” flavor of thoughts then I lose the appreciation for my own unique style, therefore forfeiting any chance I had to enhance it. On the other side of that coin, as soon as I start to boast about with my “skills”, it doesn’t take long for a moment to show up that keeps me humble to the clay.
“…is not easily angered…” - Being fast to anger or holding onto mistakes that are made will stunt progress and ultimately cause harm to a potter’s art form. Becoming good at letting things go and moving on quickly brings rewards both in the studio and in one’s personal life.
Another thing I can always count on is that clay is a truth teller. If there are inconsistencies or corners cut I will absolutely know once I open the door of the kiln. One little air bubble or wet spot or chemical component off and the whole piece risks ruin. It proves to be well worth the time to seek the truth and the integrity of the piece, making sure I am paying my due diligence.
Really, at the end of the day, what keeps me going back to the studio is the trust I have in the ability to progress, the hope that I’ll score a win soon and having perseverance in an art form that I love.
So there you have it; pottery really is a master teacher and love is a tale it tells! We might be biased here, but we would wager that pottery could be one of the best art forms out there!
- Kayla Marie
Mountain Arts Pottery
Retail Store Manager
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