It was 1972. My senior year of high school. Lincoln School. A Quaker girls school. I was a boarding student. The prefect balance of strict and freedom. Strict was the dark green and grey uniform. No jewelry or makeup. No room for personal expression. Everyone on equal ground. Study hall every night and Saturdays. Academics were strenuous. Freedom took form in the nurturing of a passion. I was allowed in the Art Room whenever I had any free time. In Art Class individuality was fostered. Peace, love, Woodstock, ecology, Vietnam. Bellbottoms, patched jeans, Marimekko and Peter Max. Joni Mitchell, Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Still, Nash and Young. Then it was time to pick a photo and quote for the yearbook. We had two actually. One in our uniform and one that was personal with a chosen quote. And so here is mine. Not sure I where my quote came from so long ago. There’s no credit as there was none. Back then my interpretation was pretty literal. Today I would say it goes much deeper. Not sure I’m making my mark but I’m trying.
I was asked to make a vessel for her mother’s ashes. There was never any question that I would make one. It was an honor. A privilege to be a part of this last journey. I had known her mother all my life. She had cared for me as a child. She was my neighbor. And throughout my career as a Potter, she had been a great supporter of my work. Her daughter told me there was never any question that she wanted me to make this vessel. She was confident that whatever I made would be reflective of her mom. I may have physically crafted this vessel but it’s design came from her spirit watching over the entire process. I was completely unaware of this while making the piece. It flowed together over the days and when I finished and really looked at it for the first time, I knew she had been with me all along . A girl who always had sand in her shoes and a seashell in her pocket.
“Not all who wander are lost?” or is it “All who wander are not lost?” I apologize to the author. Was it Emerson or Thoreau? I know I could goggle it but I’m not going there. I am lost. Not the “good” kind reflected in this quote above. Not the getting lost the beauty of art, music, nature or love. Not the getting lost in a daydream. I’ve lost my way creatively. I’m stuck. Moving neither forward or back. It’s really frustrating, uncomfortable, exhausting and overwhelming. I’ve been here before. It goes with the territory of creative pursuit. So how do I get out of here? Perhaps wandering is the answer.
“Kate’s Find” is a piece inspired by my daughter who is a wanderer in the good sense.
This is my studio. It’s 22 feet by 16 feet. It’s one room. I’ve got it divided into office, work, glazing, firing, shipping and display areas. Not much has changed in this space except the way I work in it. I’ve had to adapt, not the space. I don’t mix clay here or fire a large gas or wood kiln. That was past. This is the present. I’ve had a few physical limitations develop over the years. Each time the Doctor said I’d have to give up being a potter. Not an option I’d tell them. I’ll adapt. I meet people and they ask what I do?”I’m a Potter” I say. Then they say, “I’d love to see your studio.” “Well” I say, “That will take all of 5 minutes tops. It’s little.” I often had dreams of a bigger space. Thankfully that never happened. I would have just filled it up with things I don’t need. It’s my little space for my big dreams. It’s all I’ll ever need.
“”I am made of Potter’s thoughts. When I break, I will be gone.” John Neis, Potter, Pennsylvania 1785-1867
I love this quote. I have it hanging up in my studio. It gives me a pause each time I read it. What are my thoughts? What am I thinking each time I make a piece? Do my hands translate them into the piece? When the pot breaks will my thoughts be gone? Where? I think my hands have memory. Memories of every pot I have ever made go into each successive piece. So as long as I am making pottery, my thoughts remain.
I love Oysters! I don’t remember when I ate my first one but I think it was in my early twenties. For a Cape Cod girl I was a late bloomer! Now they are a favorite. Especially raw, straight up! So I had to design an Oyster Platter to cradle the little beauties. Oysters get a raw ( no pun intended) deal in the shellfish/ seafood world. They are so craggy and ugly from the outside. But inside the shell is beautiful! All smooth, shiny and with that beautiful little purple spot. And the Oyster itself is just perfection. All creamy, cool and salty. A taste of the ocean! Pearl or no pearl a thing of beauty. I hope my platter design does them justice!