Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hubris, Detachment and Making Pottery

“You can’t always get what you want

But if you try sometimes well you just might find

You get what you need”

Through the years I have found that, of course, Mick is right.

The information I need to make a decision, the lesson I need to learn, the missing piece to the puzzle are all there right before my eyes: all I need to do is pay attention. And a lot of this “paying attention” I’ve learned through the practice of making pots. I can just sit at the wheel and throw a pot and move along. But every so often I am reminded to stop and pay attention, to listen to the clay and listen to myself. And that is what just happened this weekend.

I wanted to get some greenware fired. I had some pieces I had made for an exchange that the Etsy Mud Team is having. I also had some pieces for a commission that I wanted to finish. And, most of all, I had some new pieces: two boxes that had turned out beautifully! I knew that some of these pieces were not yet bone dry but in my hubris I thought I could handle that. I packed the kiln and turned the bottom ring on for most of Friday afternoon, checking the boxes to make sure all was well. I turned it back on again on Saturday and let it run for several hours. Things were looking good so I slowly took the kiln up in temperature and confidently left the studio. When I opened the kiln up today, this is what I found.

The boxes exploded in a shower of bisque shards that landed on every shelf below and in a pile on the bottom of the kiln. All the commission items were hopelessly cracked. I had to laugh at myself! I knew better! What made me think that I could get away with it? Arrogance, of course.

I actually did laugh at myself when I opened the kiln. At another time I might have cried in frustration. I don’t know when I learned this detachment but somewhere along the last few years I stopped attaching so much importance to the end result and focusing instead on the process. [For another perspective on detachment, read Laurie Erdmann's recent blog post.]

In addition, this kiln mishap has provided me with an opportunity to approach the clay with the spirit of learning, to once again sit at the wheel to study the process of making a pot. The centered lump of clay is filled with opportunity to become shards at the bottom of the kiln or a fabulous new pot.


Mostly Art said...

What a fantastic attitude you have! I would have cried for sure... in fact, I still haven't gotten back to work after an overfire that ruined a whole kiln load over a month ago. Need to get back on that proverbial horse with an attitude like you have! ♥

Suzanne said...

This is what I always say after a pottery accident, "there are 100 ways to ruin a pot". Wow that load really exploded, glad that you are not too upset over your mishap.

Sue Furrow said...

Oh, that's sad. The boxes look like they would have been lovely. I know you can make some more-esp. with your wonderful attitude.

Gina said...

Sorry for the loss of your boxes but you have the perfect attitude! I enjoyed your intro - a quote from good memories!