Sunday, June 28, 2015
Run towards the unknown daylight
Clay....... what a mysterious thing it is. What an addiction.........
Today I went into my studio and started packing it all up. Overwhelming sadness took hold of me.
My studio is full of ten years........ glaze test tiles, some so pretty, I remember taking them from the kiln, excited at the prospect of applying a newly created glaze to my work. A box full of them. My brushes, how many strokes of terra sigilata were applied with those fine brushes, some hand made from other potters, some I made. My trimming tools, also some hand made, ribs, sponges, clay stamps I made, paddles, templates, molds, ware boards, bats, books, journals, magazines, old work that never found a home, chemicals, scales, buckets, my wheel, my kiln, my stool....... not to mention all of the little treasures I have collected, some sent to me, some found in drawers, flea markets, antique stores, thrift stores....... so many little things I never got around to using. So many things I found and love. Bird feathers, rocks, shells, driftwood, bones, rusty cans, rusty nails, a bird's nest built last year in the rafters, glass bottles I found on Shackleford Island and brought back on the ferry, more rusty stuff. I have four tool boxes that were my dad's. I packed all of my tools in them. Clean, worn, used and used. Now packed neatly in metal boxes. I have to start this now, it's going to take awhile and we want to get our house ready to sell at some point.
The floor is swept, spiders relocated, boxes packed for giving away. My kiln is clean and ready to sell. I felt as if I were walking in the soft deep sand on the beach, slogging through the day. I turned one way and saw a hundred things to do, turned the other way and there were a hundred more. Couldn't focus on one task at a time. Couldn't really focus on anything. I would see a test tile and have so many ideas for a new piece. I would find a trinket in a box and immediately know what I would create for it. All I really wanted to do was to sit down and cry. I'm keeping all of my stuff for someday, but as the song says, Someday, never comes.....
Today I felt as if a chapter in my life ended. New chapters have begun. I love my job at the garden store, love the people I work with, love the new things I'm learning. But when was the last time I made something? It's been a long while...... the thing is, clay is all consuming. It's 24/7. And I don't have a lifestyle to give 24/7 to clay. I really need more than 24 hours in a day as it is, but add clay to the equation..... I don't have what it takes for that anymore. I have developed tendonitis in my left arm. I'm left handed and some days I can't even brush my hair ( not that I do that very much anyway, ha), some days I can't lift a teapot the pain is so bad. Some days it is such an annoying pain, I want to just lay down and pull the covers over my head. But I don't. I just do stuff anyway, ignore the pain, get so busy I don't notice it, and get on with it. What else can you do?
Today was full of memories. The warm sun coming in through the windows of my studio in the fall afternoons, the trees golden in the woods.The songs on my iPod or NPR and the BBC reporting the news of the day. The smell of my trash cans from raku brought a rush of memories of firings with friends, late night firing, firing even in the snow and the rain. The sound of Wesley's car pulling up in the driveway around 3pm every day, just home from school, coming down to tell me about her day as I worked. The sound of my wheel, the slap of clay on the wheel head. Carrying ware boards carefully up to my kiln. Getting up early in the morning and going downstairs, holding my breath as I opened the kiln. Ecstatic when a piece came out perfect, deflated and crying when something cracked or a glaze fucked up a whole load. Poor Gerry having to listen to my cursing and yelling. But being the first to share my excitement when I opened up a reduction can after a raku fire that was magical.
I miss all of this so much. I made some beautiful work. I got published in books and magazines. I got invited to some pretty great shows, worked some great festivals. Met some great folks. But I never made any damn money and it just sucked after awhile, working so hard and seeing nothing for my efforts monetarily. That's what happens when you make art for money. It is an unrealistic and extremely difficult path that just fucking beats you down to pulp. So I got off the merry go round in exchange for a paycheck and a thank you at the end of the day!
Only a couple of my old pottery pals ever check in anymore. I never hear from my old customers. Galleries never call. I have faded away in pottery land. It's good though. I don't stress over the time I'm spending with my clay and not my family, don't stress over how to pay show fees and guild dues, don't stress over entry fees for exhibitions, don't stress over rejection letters and work that didn't sell. In fact, I don't really stress over much of anything. One day, I'll get out some clay and make some stuff just for me, but for now, it's endless purging from living in one place for too many years. Time to move on and head for the unknown daylight!