Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why 3 hours of ceramics class was more challenging than 2 years of grad school

This weekend I faced one of my most internally demanding challenges.

After about a year of intrigue around the world of pottery, I signed up for a ceramics class with Create in Clay Studio in Emeryville, CA.
After the instructor did a demo and explained very clearly the what and why for each step, I felt excited and confident. The instructions made sense and most of my experiences with art so far have been a smooth transition.

Something changed the moment I sat behind my own wheel, one foot hesitating over the pedal, and a fistful of clay in my right hand.
My confidence faded quickly and all that was left were my doubts. I could not remember the first step- Wet hands or dry hands? Aggressive or gentle? Fast wheel or slow? The voice in my head grew louder.

"You're gonna mess up!"
"You're not doing it right!"
"You're wasting time!"
"It's not good enough!"

I was embarrassed. I laughed at my uneasiness, and the instructor reassured me. Inside, I wasn't fully convinced.
I jumped in. I struggled. I was afraid.

My inner thoughts remained with me for two more hours as I attempted my second and third piece in the studio. The instructor had to help me both times. There were ways to hold my hands that my body had not identified with yet. There was a method, a strict procedure that is not part of my normal method of 'creating'. Molding that ball of clay on that spinning wheel required technique, skill, and most importantly, patience.

I am not very patient. I have known this for many years. Right now I struggle with patience daily as I wait for the universe to respond to my efforts for a job and residence. I am working on appreciating how good my life is already...how much more I have than most others. These reminders help me to be patient.

But my experience in ceramics class proved to me that I have a long way to go. I am too hard on myself. Nothing is perfect, but I am doing just fine. Matter of fact, nothing will ever be perfect, and a little clay on the hands never hurt anyone.

Won at Bingo in West Covina!
The pieces I made are not ready yet, but here is a photo of two pieces that inspired me to learn. I won these beauties playing Bingo at a church event in West Covina. The artist (whose name I cannot remember) has been creating pieces at Mt. Sac in Walnut for many years.  I look forward to the pride of making my own piece one day. I signed up for 3 more classes at Create in Clay and look forward to more learning.

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