I’ve felt kind of blah the past year, just surviving, not really thriving. I’ve cried more than normal for me, mostly from pain and the mental fatigue that comes with pain. I thought more about quitting ceramics in 2015 than every before, but I kept smiling and pretending I loved what I was doing.
This past summer I received a cover letter and resume from my now 17-year-old intern. I was delighted. I couldn’t offer her a paid position but I offered her an opportunity to help me in the studio for 2 hours a week in return for teaching her ceramics for two hours a week. The more she came to the studio the more my cold pottery heart melted. I thought, I can’t quit I have so much to teach her. We have to start a pottery army!
In October, I decided to give myself the gift of time. I would allow myself to play in the studio the whole month of January. Yesterday was day one, my phone rang at 1:45 in the afternoon. It was my intern and she was crying. When people call me crying I usually think someone has died. She had broken up with her boyfriend and asked if she could come over to the studio. I didn’t know what to do and said yes.
When she showed up I listened to her and hugged her and tried to be as comforting as I could be. Through tears she told me she was sorry for being so unprofessional for calling and coming over with a personal problem. (Yes, she is adorable.) I told her not to worry because she has joined the long line of people who have cried in the studio. I told her it’s my happy place and yet everyone else cries. (I’ve cried in the studio too, damn kiln.) It was an excellent reminder that you can make plans, but you can’t control everything.
I like teenagers, they are mini-adults, just trying to find their way. I forgot how raw your emotions are as a teenager.
Before Christmas, while everyone was frantically getting busy I was in the studio forcing myself to come up with new ideas. The used to flow, but since I was just going through the motions the idea well had gone dry. For days I had a horrible stress headache, I blew up at people, cried, and just sat and stared at the wall. I knew there was some inspiration inside me that needed to get out, but it wouldn’t budge.
The pain had extracted the emotion from my work. I just wanted to make work that excited me so much that I wanted to share it with others. I went to the studio on the morning of December 21, 2015 to work and gave myself a time limit of 3 hours to not think, just feel. I wanted to feel the colors, shapes, patterns, and how they spoke to me. I would catch myself thinking too much and say “No! Just keep working, there is no wrong or right, just feel.” I finished in three hours, loaded the kiln, and waited to see what happened.
When I opened the kiln the next day I was SO excited. What was inside my head was coming out. There are many different things that inspire an artist. My intern said to me last fall I like your work, but I would love to see what you can make. I love a challenge.