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Summer Heat

There’s always a lag in the process, a length of time that expands, sometimes to a month or more, between the moment of making & the moment of completion. In studio ceramics. At least in the way I work. This piece was thrown in still-cold February, the time of year when you wear a wool cap when you work & heat up the water to set beside the wheel.

I remember it – I actually threw this piece during a class at Santa Fe Clay, demonstrating for students. “Now, maybe there’s something we can do with this rim,” I remember saying, reaching for the first tool I could find & dragging it around on the surface – the needle tool – when teaching, you kind of work quickly, exaggerating, emphasizing. You don’t think of keeping what you make. But this platter – as I packed up at the end of class – looked too good to recycle.

It sat an extra month on the shelves back in my studio. Last week I finally fired it – a highlight, a favorite piece from June. The undulating pattern, lines merging & crossing at the extremity of the circle, recalls, for me anyway, the mesmerizing grooves of an LP record. The form – because I was exaggerating, probably – has a robust, confident, balance. It is not over-worked. Seems to me that in the studio – and on my favorite records, too – the best & most beautiful is often that which slips through, almost despite the maker – you barely see it out of the corner of your eye. It has a life of its own.

How about this piece? June has gotten hot – the studio door is open – I glance around for uncovered clay & throw a sheet of plastic over, to slow its drying. Everything is easy – and if it’s the heat of the kiln that transforms the potter’s art & makes it indelible, records it, so to speak – then that same heat feels like it’s hanging in the air as I work, now, lurking in the corners. In a good way. The first day of summer is next week. It’s hot outside. A piece like this slides out of the kiln & into the gallery – I just see it, out of the corner of my eye.

Saturday the 25th I’ll have my eighth annual Studio Sale. This lidded jar will be there – all the pieces on this page – plus piles of older work I want to let go & clear away. Do stop by if you’re around, & say hi!