Doing difficult things can take a while. Doing impossible things . . . well . . . that just takes a bit longer.
Several years ago, the thought of doing pottery again, it just seemed impossible. However, I set a goal to go after it anyway. And then, little by little, I kept leaning into it, and got closer, and closer. It still felt like I was a snail crossing the freeway in the hot sun.
However, after sourcing parts from Portland to Boston to Canada, I refurbished my 43 year old Crusader kiln with new elements and new connectors and a couple new bricks. After all these years together, it responded to my love and kindness, by . . . blowing . . . itself . . . up!!!
And then I had to have hand surgery. (I have a good friend, who's a professional potter. He had surgery on a finger once. He also broke his leg once. He said if he had to do one of them again, he'd go for the broken leg.) Fortunately, my hand surgeon had warned me ahead of time, that after the surgery it was "gonna hurt like Hell." I was still staggered by how badly it hurt. It didn't help matters that I lived with the toughest woman on earth. She broke her leg in four places, and separated her ankle joint, in remote Idaho, and crawled out. And then she overcame cancer; not once, but twice. I was told once by a friend, "I know who you live with. You gotta have more in the tank than all this whining about your hand." As you can understand, sympathy was in short supply, for my situation.
But if you just hold on and don’t give up, sometimes, with the help of others, something that matters to you, comes together.
And here I am, again, a potter. I am an older potter for sure, but I think I'm overall much better now, than former periods of pot making.
And one of the lessons learned is that some shenanigans can avoided. Some by preparation and paying attention. Some can be deflected by skill, or luck, or cunningly good looks. (Well, on that last one, at least that's what they tell me.)
But the kiln gods are touchy. They bless you for only so long, and then, every so often, they require a sacrifice. That's the simple potting truth. No dodging it. In my experience, the sacrifices they pick, are almost always the ones that have been worked on the hardest, or anticipated the most, or made under a promise to deliver, under a host of conditions.
So, I'll warn all customer ahead of time, I am reluctant to promise anything under deadline. After all I was a snail metaphor a few sentences back right?
Pottery historically has been vital and central to the most critical and basic aspects of human life. And this stature among humans has a lot to do with why The Kiln Gods are supremely fickle and temperamental and just plain mean at times. The failures often sneak up on you out of nowhere like a werewolf, and the losses are more savage and complete than any other art form. Yet when you can dig clay from Earth itself, spin it about, fire it up all orange hot into a gracefully magnificent, bewitching thing, that becomes a steady, quiet member of a family's inner circle, for generations, its a phenomenal feeling, like a really great guitar riff, or Freddy Mercury at Live Aid 1985. Pottery is just my road, full of potholes and triumph, and I am foolishly devoted to it. -- Bruce Castle
I develop pottery from clays and materials from Oregon, Idaho and Washington. Most of my work is hand thrown using a wheel that was manufactured in Portland. Then there's some trickery getting the pots to dry right, by dressing up the pottery in plastic clothes, and before the pots know it, they find themselves in a kiln, not once, but twice. The kiln's also made in Portland, so it makes it up to Cone 6 (2235 degrees) even in rainy weather. While it heats, we wait, and silently pray the Kiln Gods. We hope they won't demand a sacrifice, but rather bless us and all our goats and chickens with something beautiful from the kiln." -- Bruce Castle