Shrinking My Life (and No Weaving in This Post)

No weaving today, because I got distracted. I signed up to take a four-week introductory pottery (handbuild) class Esther was/is teaching. I've wanted to give pottery a go since 1974, (50 years!) and went to two half-day classes in that time. I thought this might be my last chance for a wholehearted effort. Before, I wanted to make nice things to use and be amateur-good; now, I want better understanding of the craft so I can properly appreciate good pottery as well as love something for its good look/feel. And I wanted to the experience of having had a go, if you know what I mean.
I really, really enjoyed looking up images online, filling tiny handmade scrapbooks, trying to figure out what I liked about the different images, and taking notes, noting techniques/tools if they were mentioned.
And then making more A6 books as I ran out. I enjoyed this.
But pottery itself, I soon realized, wasn't for me. I'm glad I took the class; now I got it out of my system. I'll certainly go until the end of the course to finish the pieces I started, but after that, for the time being, I'm done.
Ben and I had a jolly good time on Sunday using up my clay. Ben made a whole lot of small things, practical and not, in quick succession, (the practical bits are on a different tray,) putting some back in the clay bag and remaking into something else. I'm more deliberate; I made fake stones so I can play with glazes and one dish, but that was too thin it went back into the clay bag. I might make a couple of more stones, or a small something with that last bit of clay. (Something I learned Sunday night from Esther: I poked a bunch of holes where you can't see, maybe more than necessary, so they don't explode in the kiln!)
This is hardly the first time I got a craft out of my system. I was fascinated by bookbinding most of my life until I took a course, and realized the degree of exactitude required, and the difficulties being short and having short arms. I'm serious. I didn't want to invest the time to practice, and now I'm happy making and using my wonky notebooks/sketchbooks. And I still enjoy looking at bookbinding books and vids; it's a lovely hobby.

Picture framing was another; this was a hobby both Ben and I found attractive, and practical for his photography. We've been to several workshops, but, again, the exactitude and upper arm strength I found lacking, and, we don't have as much wall space as we would like. On a rare occasion, Ben still makes frames, and I may assist, while I'm happy designing and having Ben cut me some matts.
The reason why pottery is not for me, in the first instance, is my mouth feels gritty and horrible, though surgical masks, (I haven't tried N95 in class); wet clay is surprisingly delicate and just putting down a piece wrong, just brushing against it by mistake, warps/dents the clay; and most of all, there isn't the leeway wool/cashmere weaving affords.

More importantly, it's a craft; it requires years and years of practice and mistakes to improve, and I don't want to give it that. Here, we return to my usual refrain: I want to use the rest of my time weaving and getting better at it. This became clear when I remembered Esther saying in the first session, and I paraphrase, the first time she handled clay, she knew she was in her element, that pottery was her thing. I felt exactly the same when I wove my first sample on Hiroshima Day in 1995. (After letting the rigid heddle kit sit in the hallway of our Auckland rental house for ten weeks, because it was an incumbent gift from Mom. LOL.) I had nothing like that lizard brain reaction to pottery, only doubt and frustration shouting at me. 

And it doesn't mean I won't engage with pottery again. At tines I felt the same about drawing; it took me six months in figure drawing class until I found some quiet space in my head. It still doesn't come naturally, but from time to time I enjoy it, filling the pages of my wonky handmade sketchbooks with wonky drawings, and even coloring them in. So I might try potter again, especially Ben comes along, because his child-like ease with the material, (he starts making without knowing what he is going to make!) can keep me from getting too serious. If I don't, not a loss. 

In a way, I'm shrinking my life again. I think often of when I gave up writing, and I know I'm still on the same right-for-me course. I really want to weave decent pieces, unrushed, (but a bit more quickly,) on my own terms, the way I want to. I'm forever on my apprenticeship Randy suggested. I'm shrinking lengthwise; my muscles don't stretch like they used to and I can't reach the higher shelves. And since it takes me so much longer to do anything, and I require multiple checking and rechecking and another round for good measure, I feel good with this additional shedding and clarification. More time to weave!  
* * * * *
Yesterday I had my first old-lady fall; I lost my balance and fell backwards on my bottom while trying to kneel, forward, placing more wet pottery pieces on a tray. Gah!

I turn 66 tomorrow. The way I've been feeling, I wouldn't mind if it were 666.


Meg said...

Intellectual curiosity about making shapes in pottery remains, the "what if" I learned in weaving, but considering the dexterity required, I give it a marginally better shot than my becoming a figure skater or basketball player at this stage. Dear me.

Leigh said...

Belated happy birthday! I hope you weren't hurt from your fall.

Interesting post. There is so much to be said for exploring other crafts and realms of creativity. Even if we realize it isn't for us, it helps us appreciate the work and skill that goes into doing a good job. "What if" is a big motivator! It's what keeps a craft fun, I think.

I've never tried pottery, but I love the stuff. Years ago, I traded weaving for pottery. Now, I have the homestead and garden, so less time for weaving, and that means less incentive to explore other crafts. After being away from weaving I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do and I sometimes lament the set-back. Even so, I probably wouldn't have been able to make different choices at the time. I'm just relieved to be back at it.

Meg said...

Thanks, and no I wasn't hurt.

Re. "it helps us appreciate the work and skill", I'm currently beyond that, in the "how on earth do you find the patience and dexterity to handle clay" territory. LOL. "What if" is huge, even if something I only am starting to see smidgen of the craft, just peeking in the window from outside at this point.

I just had to try pottery as it was a 50-year thing, and if I waited longer, I might have been even more disappointed with my own lack of dexterity.

I have wondered where you disappeared to suddenly, but good to see you back. And don't lament - spend time designing and weaving instead. Because, you know, you can't get back that time, but you don't have to spend it thinking about it now.

Onward, we weave, Leigh!!