In this day and age, when factories can produce more ceramic mugs, bowls and pitchers than we'll ever need, why do people continue to be interested in handmade pottery? I have thought about this and my own fascination with clay for some time. Clay has been part of a transformation in my life, an awakening of the soul. It is the process of creating something out of inert and amorphous clay that has opened the floodgates of my soul and taken me on a journey of discovery. From the initial wedging to the final trimming, the process of throwing a pot is one of solitude and freedom. While the wet hands work the earth, the mind is free to roam the most distant reaches of the soul and assess our dreams and hopes, our pain and frustration, our moments of glory and shame. Time stands still while I throw, yet it moves forward and backward: the past, present and future seem to become one.
The following is a quote from Carla Needleman's book The Work of Craft that explains, much better than I can, why I do what I do, why I am so attracted to clay. Needleman's book has had a tremendous influence on me and I recommend it to everyone.
Can a Mug Save the World?
"A mug, used for taking nourishment needed to keep our physical self alive, can also be a thing of beauty that nourishes the soul. By being both a useful tool and a thing of beauty; by providing sustenance for both body and soul, a mug can be the means by which we integrate our physical and spiritual selves; our left and right brain; our yin and our yang; our male and female sides... to become a complete being: a perfect circle."
"A pottery mug accepts and validates the person who uses it. There is no intrusion; it accomodates to us, its shape and the heft of it to our hands, its lip to ours. Even when the potter fails, when, for example, a handle shows that she sacrificed function for form, a commonality exists; we all fail in the same ways. Crafts pay homage to the dignity of daily life. The shape and use of the physical body is known and accepted and, in a craft object as simple as a stoneware mug, is served with modesty and love."