Musings of a Potter
By Sallie Nau
With this cold weather, sick babies and an inability to come into the art studio to create with my art buddies at Art Slam Studio, I decided to hop back on the potter’s wheel. It’s been months, (seriously) I just had a baby 5 weeks ago and with a giant tummy getting on the wheel was not a top priority. To my surprise I was able to knock out an impressive amount of plates for a custom 1920’s mock stoneware set. My body is a bit sore, but that aside it was a little like riding a bike, muscle memory kicked in.
When I was done throwing I invited my 8 year old to come out and work on a bowl. She had been begging me for a while for the chance to work on the potter’s wheel and I agreed, centering the clay for her and giving her instruction as she made her bowl. The end result was a soggy creation no where near resembling the bowl that she intended. She stomped away saying “why didn’t you help me!? I thought I was going to make a bowl today!”
My answer was “sweetheart, nothing comes easy. It is work, it takes practice and you cannot learn to make a bowl in one try.”
I remember feeling this way when I starting learning myself. I spent weeks and weeks and went though hundreds of pounds of clay before I had anything successful coming off the wheel-head. Through tears I told my instructor that I would have nothing for the critique because I couldn’t get anything right. My instructor at the time told be to just keep at it that at some point it would “happen”. I don’t give up easily I know that art is not easy. It takes practice and hard work. For me it starts with this heap of unruly clay. It takes focus and precision to make each plate alike, and practice. So why do my kids think that it is “easy?” They are under the same assumption that most of the world is. It’s easy to pickup that mug and drink out of it. You don’t feel the hard work and hours of dedication that it took to create it.
I saw this cute little post a few months ago of some balls of clay sitting at an artist’s booth saying “mugs for sale, some assembly required $10each” This gave me a giggle, because it made me think about all the work that goes into making something as simple as a mug- folks just don’t realize it. For me typically takes much longer to make a mug than a dinner plate, because you have to make different parts and assemble them.
Try something new today or get back to practicing something you haven’t mastered yet- it might not be easy, and you might not get anywhere near your desired result and that’s okay. Remember there is so much value in the time that it takes to learn and get somewhere. It’s like having a giant practice piggy bank, the more coins you put in your bank by way of practice the more it will pay in dividends later, Don’t be disappointed or frustrated in the process. Enjoying the process means you will have made PROGRESS.