Sunday, December 16, 2012

Imperfect, a Perfect Experience

I bought a mug at a workshop I went to a couple of weeks ago. I bought it right from the potter at the beginning of the workshop day. Then, in the company of other potters, I watched him work his magic at the potter's wheel through the course of the day.

I learned some things about working with porcelain I didn't know, because my experience is with earthenware and stoneware, and each clay has its own, different working properties. I decided right then to buy some porcelain clay for my studio, and "have a go."

Well, I've been using that mug since then. I'd probably drunk tea out of it over the course of a week and a half before I noticed the faint space between the top left edge of the handle and the body of the mug where it was attached. I happened to be gazing into the complex, micro-crystalline glaze surface, made to sparkle by a shaft of sun on my kitchen table. In the wonderful light, that space-not-quite-a-crack appeared just as if it hadn't been there before. It had been, of course. I just hadn't noticed. It is quite a fine little void of a line.

Tonight, holding the mug of tea warm in my hands, I looked for the not-quite-a-crack and examined it closely. I kind of fell for it. The hand-of-human aspect in the making had become so obvious. The truly handmade imperfectness. It was perfect.

I was in the supermarket this morning. I saw four different styles of mugs on a shelf, for $3.99 apiece. They were all okay. They had no not-quite-cracks on their smooth, unvariegated, glazed bodies. They were...soulless, and... okay. I would not have to experience anything particular holding one of them, except what was in it, soon ingested.


  1. It's a matter of taste. There are those who will never get past a set of plates that don't stack perfectly, soulless as they may be.

  2. GilaB, I know. I am related to some of them :) There's an important place for pure utility and uniformity, isn't there? It makes life very clean and utilitarian. I don't use handcrafted paper and wrenches and forks and nails and plastic containers. But I also know plenty of people who appreciate the individuality of particular objects, and might splurge just a little on things that are not cranked out by machines and sent down a conveyor belt. Here is a favorite of mine- handmade hats! My grandkids are wearing a couple of these.