What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Instead of my usual studio day today I went to Lill Street for a makeup ceramics class (I missed my first class on handbuilding on Tuesday night). The only class they could fit me in was Beginning Pottery. We made pinch pots and threw on the wheel. It’s been almost ten years since the last time I worked in clay, but it was amazing how my hands remembered it all. I threw 2 pots, but ended up adding them back to my clay supply. I want to save my clay for my handbuilding class.
I ended up helping the women next to me with centering the clay and pulling the walls. I remember the days when I first started throwing on the wheel back in high school. My teacher made us make 20 vessels….then cut each of them in half! It made us gasp in horror, but it was such a good lesson. Of learning to let go. Of letting yourself take risk in order to grow. Of learning that it takes a lot of ugly little pots to make something better. We had to look at the bisected vessels to see our mistakes so that we could improve our techniques. We had to learn that with ceramics, disaster can strike at any step, so it’s better to not get too attached and be prepared for anything.
I was coaching the woman next to me with centering and making the well in the center. When she was ready to start pulling the walls up, I said, “ok, you’re all set to start pulling”. She looked at me and said, “Oh no! I’m scared.” I told her that it’s ok, it’s her first time on the wheel, it’s just about practicing right now. But she decided to not pull the walls up and that she wanted to take it off the wheel. She said she wanted to have something that looked like a vessel for today’s class. I said that that was perfectly fine and showed her how to take her little vessel off the wheel.
It was interesting being an observer in today’s class-seeing fear and excitement in approaching something new and different. But how that discomfort can freeze us, inhibit us from taking the next step. I’m still learning those lessons too, just a different manifestation of it at this stage in my creative process. But art making is all about risk taking. My biggest leaps are always when I try something different. I actually feel like I learn something new from each painting I do. It’s all about the seeking and the searching. And the letting go.