For years, decades really, I’ve wanted to take a pottery class.
A few months ago, the way opened and I finally took the plunge. I enrolled in a hand-building class at the Xiem Clay Center here in Pasadena.
At first, I was shy around the clay! Even while alone with a giant block of it in my own apartment.
I don’t like people to watch while I’m “creating”, I now realize: the same reason (along with my abysmal “technique”) I was unable to participate in the recital for a group piano class I took several years ago. Though the pottery class met every Wednesday night I soon found I was happier taking my clay home and sitting with it at the dining room table while we got acquainted.
All I really wanted, from the beginning, was to fashion a bunch of tiny misshapen bowls.
I’d stayed at the apt. of my friends Lisa and Paolo last year for a month while they were out of town. They’d both taken classes at Xiem and in their kitchen were a ton of these minuscule Lisa-made bowls. I sincerely think my attraction to them is some atavistic leftover from trillions of years ago when humans were still insects, or birds. Whatever the case, my whole being thrilled to these tiny nest-like objects.
Simple though they appear, for a while fashioning even one of these tiny misshapen receptacles was beyond me. But after many hours of practice, during which I silently encouraged myself to let love be my guide, a couple of them started to take shape.
Then a couple more. Then five, eight, ten…
The other students quickly moved on to coils and slabs and there I sat, making tiny bowl after tiny bowl. Plus the things shrink after bisque-firing so most of them became even tinier than I’d planned, as in capable of holding, say, a single walnut, or three paper clips. “Can I just make another bowl?” I’d plaintively ask our instructor Titia, who I’m sure did not care if I made a thousand of them as long as I didn’t exceed my cubic-inch kiln allotment, and besides was too busy helping the others make three-tier jewelry boxes, complicated teapots, and four-gallon planters.
Glazing was fun, too, though again I couldn’t really let go and experiment the way I would have like to in front of my fellows.