Friday, August 19, 2011

Grrrouchy Potter

Spoiler alert: This is gonna be a grouchy post. If you need my sweet side... better wait till next week. It was occasioned by a telephone remark when I said I had to go, I needed to get back to work. The other person innocently said, "Have fun."

You wouldn't think "have fun" would get me so unaccountably grumpy.

It’s like this. I mean, just call me defensively crabby, but really, it is like this:

“What do you do?”

“I’m a potter.”

“Oh, that’s so much fun!”

The “f” word. It's often followed by, "Can I come and make stuff?”

I confess. Making pottery is kind of fun. But add this: It's business, too. It must be the tiara and wings that are doing it, but be honest- do I look like the Good Fairy of Studio Gift Time?

A grandma visiting her local children, on discovering I am a potter, said, “Oh, that’s so much fun! The children would love to come over to play!”

Um??? How to explain this? A working pottery studio isn’t a great place for kids to play. There are sharp tools, and equipment they can injure themselves on. They need constant supervision and guidance. And my work in progress is very easily damaged by being bumped or jostled.

This ain’t no hobby. This ain’t no disco. This ain’t no fooling around.

I'm happy to say I'm pretty busy. I'm usually too busy now to offer lessons. I have one kick wheel and my own lovely, dusty, orderly disorder. Maybe someday I'll take students again. But unless I invite them (I sometimes do), there isn't place for playful little or big guests just because "it would be so much fun."

I like my work. I like it very much. I like the muscles I get in my arms as I push the dense clay around on my wheel. I like having the expertise to give form and grace to a grayish lump. It’s not as easy as it looks, and mastering it is cool. I even use the word "play" sometimes. As in, "I'm playing with texture." (Accountants don't get to say that.) It suits me way better than lots of other jobs.

But let that not fool you for a second. It involves sweat and endurance and tools. It’s dirty and dusty and makes a big mess that needs recycling and mopping up. Often, despite all I have to do in the studio, it's hard to get down to it in the morning. It requires being available at all phases of production, at all times of day, according to the needs of the pieces at hand. It involves lots of time in the basement, lots of bending and lifting and plain old shlepping. There’s bookkeeping and taking photos and marketing my work, and updating my website regularly. My studio is something like Virgina Woolf's "a room of one's own," the place where I turn ideas and plans into pottery and sales. As for guests in my workplace... the tiara is askew and the wings- you know I don't really have wings, right?

Anyone see the irony in the fact that “have fun” makes me really, really cranky?

OK, all done with the kvetching. Now for the photo of some of the pots made in this rawware cycle:

The operative number on these is ten. Ten shellac-resisted honey jars with lids, and ten matched saucers. Ten carved washing cups. Ten nice big serving bowls, though they didn't all fit into this photo. All on schedule to be ready before Rosh Hashana.

Next week: shellac resist on some of the bowls, a bisque firing for the rawware, maybe glazing bisqueware, and absolutely fixing the glitch in my website shopping cart checkout. And maybe, work permitting, inviting a friend to visit briefly at the studio. Just for fun.

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