I got ‘hooked’ to clay while in high school and continued my ceramic studies at Portland State University. Then, for a number of years I left clay behind until my husband, Larry, brought home a potter’s wheel and suggested we take a ceramics class together. Eventually, we designed and built a home anchored around a ceramics studio.
Clay is to me is as a blank canvas is to a painter. There is a form in there waiting to get out. Between the two of us, the clay and me, we come to an agreement as to what that shape might be. Sometimes, unbeknownst to me, it subtly presents its own ideas resulting in a truly collaborative relationship. This is mostly evident when exploring new shapes. The first attempts can be clumsy until the hands and the clay come to an understanding of this new form. And if this isn’t a challenge enough, there is always the struggle between the glaze and the fire.
It sometimes reminds me of a parent sending a child out into the world, you’ve taught everything you could, now it is up to them to sink or swim. The kiln is like the world, you’ve formed the clay, calculated and applied the glazes, now it is up to the fire to determine the final look of the pot. Opening the kiln is always opportunity for learning, for what worked and what needs to be re-evaluated. It is this moment that keeps me going back to the wet clay to repeat the process all over again as there are always more possibilities and more to learn.