Founder’s Day

I went to a show in my hometown to show up in my hometown to push the pots and say hello to folks. I had to do all of that after working all night at the paper factory. The night at the paper factory was a long one because nothing was running right. So I super rush home and showered and loaded the pots. My wife was a big help as she was so kind and had all the pots that came out of the kiln packed. I almost was late to the show from hugging her and all. So we packed everything in the car and went to the show 40 min away and followed the instructions..

So they had teams of folks there to help unload with set up, so we pull to our spot and unload, and they all help, and we move the car and then start the set-up. Now I don’t have a normal show tent but one that is 5 sided and once up it for sure did not fit in the 10×10 spot but was well over it and was all up in my neighbor’s biz and Even though I was exhausted I quickly realize I was becoming that guy by holding things up. So I say “Hey It’s not supposed to rain so we don’t need the tent, thanks everyone. ”

But the director of the show said to me “Well you might want shade from the sun.” and I said “I got nice trees here so I’m good thanks and I don’t want to be that guy and hold you all up.” So we wasted time and argued a bunch, but she was very kind and overly helpful. But after some thought she told me that she had 2 slots of folks who did not show, and I could move all the stuff to that spot and put up the tent. By this time things were very stressful as we just needed to get set up to look good and all

So we wasted more time and that of the helpers when the kind lady had us all move all the pots and the stuff to the other double space and us and them got the tent up thanks goodness and one helper dropped a container of pots and I told him not to worry as everything on the bottoms are always seconds anyway and all the million dollar pots were home and the ones here were just mugs and all. None of that was true, but I just didn’t want to waste time with him going on about how bad he felt and all and for sure I don’t have any million dollar pots. So we got set up and the work put out on the flip shelves that set up fast and my wife helped me put out all the pots she packed up so nice in nest format from the boxes, and before we knew it we were saying hi to folks who started to stop by and poke around.

After we got set up my wife said she would find me food and coffee while I did some pricing adjustments. She asked me what I wanted in my coffee and I say just cream because you’re helping me added the sweetness and I might have a mouth full of cavities, call the dentist. So after my wife came back with food and coffee, she thought maybe I should shoot a pic and post to social media, so the peeps could come say hi if they were in town. So after six shots of me not sure where my arms should go we finally got a nice one, and then we sat out there all day in the shade in the hot sun and had a nice time chatting with folks and talking about how pots are made .

I was able to sell quite a few pots and made back my booth fee and believe it or not a few hundred over. And I was relived that I had the right stuff for the right folks, as I always worry about it. I appreciated each and every sale as no one owes me anything and I had some strong interactions and also a lady who wanted to learn to fire gas kilns as she only does electric. So I told her to stop up sometime.

Then I walked around a bit to wake up while my wife watched the booth when things slowed and bought a mug off another local potter who had some real nice work and had nice hand-builds. So over all it was a nice time as I sold some work and got some money and a sunburn. We then went home and I went to bed then got up and worked on the Hebrew pots for the opening on Friday, July 1st. Twenty of those pots are drying now, flipped in the sun.

 

Clemmer’s Tractor

I was not the only one out in the sun that day. A cool breeze was mixed in with the heat, so it was a great day for drying hay. They had plenty cut up on the Clemmer place, and they needed to get the hay raked and baled due to threats of thunderstorms. Old man Clemmer was using his new Oliver tractor.

Old man Clemmer was able to purchase his new Oliver tractor with the insurance money he got from when his pole barn full of bedding straw burned down. After the big investigation of the burning hay pile they went with Clemmer’s theory that sunlight from his pickup truck mirror reflected into the barn and set the bedding straw on fire. It also helped out if you were good friends with the fire chief and those who worked the fire company as then there was no need to look deeper than you needed to into things.

Some at Millie’s bar thought the fire up at Clemmer’s was a bit strange, and they all were talking about how much young Davy Clemmer loved fire works. Every year when the night went warm, it would sound like Chinese new years up on the hill. Davy Clemmer would save all his money and have his older friends buy fireworks. Before Facebook, fire working was a form of entertainment for a lot of folks. When M80’s were no longer big enough, there was always quarter sticks to relive folk of the burden of having all 5 fingers. Davy Clemmer was down to three fingers now but was still going strong as he still had a thumb.

Davy Clemmer lost his second finger in a heroic effort to save a friend’s life. Somehow, a quarter stick that was lit got dropped on the floor of the side by side the friends were driving up on Turkey Trail road. And while they both in a panic tried to find a stick among the empty beer cans, the fuse was much shorter by the time Davy Clemmer came up with it. Davy for the better got the stick to the window as the side by side he was driving rolled into the ditch. Davy lost a finger and part of his hearing that day when they crawled out from under the vehicle and celebrated being alive in pain. “So I think Davy Clemmer set that fire up there, and you can’t tell me any different.” said Bob as he took a sip of his beer. “I don’t care what the investigation found. If Davy Clemmer was around the place and there was a fire, you can almost bet that kid was part of it all somehow.”

But Clemmer’s Oliver was real nice and worked much better than the last tractor he had. It always seemed he was working on the old one more than he was using it, and when you had nice days on the farm, it was time to get things done rather than mess around trying to be a mechanic. The rain held off for Clemmer and he was able to bag everything he had down. It was almost like a miracle happened as when the dark clouds gathered a hole seemed to open up over his field. “How lucky am I!” thought Clemmer as the rain went up the other side the road.

Now there may not be an old man Clemmer or an Oliver tractor, but somewhere, someplace, someone was forced to appreciate life a little more. This is my story about my town, so I get to tell it how I like.

Written By,

Al Wayman

Artist/Owner

Creek Road Pottery LLC

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It sure was a hard time getting started but I was able to make it into the studio to start some outstanding projects. The weather is nice enough to have warm days to do yard work but still cold enough to have frost. The studio was a bit cold so I used hot water in the tossing pail. I was brainstorming on finding ways to keep my clothes clean some while throwing and thought I would try aprons made for dishwashers and they worked great. I have for years simply clayed up cloths then took them to the laundromat after soaking them in a pail of hot water. Way back I remember my mentors soaking their cloths in hot water and vinegar. I have since learned to not enjoy the smell all that much as potters use vinegar for almost anything; in their slip, cleaning, mop water, handling mugs, and anything else it seemed they can dump it into. If you asked the reason they always have one for sure but it may not make total sense but that’s just fine as long as it makes them feel good about what they might need vinegar for.

Warm Days Cold Nights

I was able to fill a bunch of grow bags with soil to start a garden later. My wife and I decided to use grow bags because the soil here at Creek road is very rocky once you break through the sod. It took about 10 bags of dirt, the was a bit expensive due to inflation but we got it done. All we need now is a fence to keep out the rabbits and deer. The rabbits have no fear of us and we can almost walk right up to them and I’m sure they all would have a great time munching down the lettuce when it sprouts. I hope to plant around Memorial Day.

I have a few summer shows planned that should be fun to attend and meet people of the area. Work-life balance has been a challenge as I had a schedule change and things are going well but I have been a bit tired on my days off. I hope to get back on the straight and narrow and keep looking ahead as if you look back to much things can get crooked some so no need to be perfect. Just make your first furrow as straight as you can with your eyes looking to some landmark on the far side of the field and it should for the most part come together. It’s Spring and the plowing should be done but the fields were a bit wet to get on. Many couldn’t wait any longer to plow or things would come up late; “knee high fourth of July” for corn. But Rusty Clapper was having a real bad time getting started this year plowing with the horses.

Rusty Clapper Breaks a Leg

When Rusty came to he lifted his head a little. The sun was bright and warm up in the twenty acre plot on Crow Hill. He could make out the looming dark shadows of his three large workhorses standing ahead, their heads shaking off the black flies and getting impatient.

Rusty could feel the cold damp earth as he lay on his back in the six inch deep furrow. He tried to move some to see if he was all right but he could not feel his left leg. He reached down with his left arm and a thousand prickling pins raced up the limb, telling him he must have been laying there long enough to cut off the circulation. “Hooo!” Rusty said to his team. They were older horses, well trained, which may have saved his life. Rusty propped himself up on his elbow to have a look at his situation.

Big Sam was smart enough to stop the team when they hit the rock plowing. A younger team might have spooked and ran, killing Rusty and breaking the plowshare. Rusty loved having big Sam in the furrow as he set the pace for the other two horses. He could see the evener had came right off the plow and the pull beam lay on the ground, The trip for the plow might have been rusted up some as it never sprung when it collided with the huge rock. He sure was a lucky guy a little. But he was in a great deal of pain in his left leg. He winced and lay back down as the horses shook their heads, annoyed by the flies swarming around them.

Rusty and Evelyn always had a rule that they would eat dinner together no matter what at 6 P.M. sharp, and if one was not there, each should go find the other. The boys had their own jobs off the farm now, so it was just the two of them and a basset hound they called Sherlock, who mostly laid under the table. Rusty left a note for Evelyn that we would be on the Crow Hill lot plowing with the horses. When rusty checked his watch out in the damp furrow under the big sky it was only 2 P.M. So he had some time. He knew it would be a long fours hours.

It sure was a nice day up on Crow Hill in the field, in furrow, under the sky. A few clouds moved slowly over head as Rusty lay there on his back. It had been some time since he lay on his back looking up at the sky. He thought maybe the last time he had the pleasure was way back when he was 10 or 12 years old when his cousins and he would go swimming in the pond out past the barn in the pasture. Out by the big gnarly oak tree where the cows would lay in the shade on those warm summer days. All the kids would lay out also on the soft grass by the pond after a swim before milking, watching the clouds float by.

The tree had a large bough that reached out over the water and if a kid claimed up there and if he was brave, a good cannon ball splash could be made from leaping off. Out in the pond where you could play all day knocking each other off the big tractor tire inner tube, out where you could scoop up tadpoles and minnows in your hands. A cloud drifted over top Rusty that look like a plow. “Real funny.” said Rusty out loud to the Lord. “Real funny.”

The horses were being quite good, standing still as they all spent time out there together, on Crow Hill, while they all waited for Evelyn to get home and come to find them. Rusty was doing better than expected with the pain as he lay in the furrow. There were a lot of things he might have done differently in his life now that he had time to think about it out there on the ground as he watched a few sparrows dive and dart above his head.

Rusty Clapper thought maybe he should call his brother as he reflected some. Maybe he was a bit to hard and judgmental way back when Randy decided to sell his half of the cows and leave the farm to take on a factory job. Rusty seen it as a bit selfish, and a betrayal of what their father worked so hard for all those years. But maybe the guy just wanted to be happy, and plus Mama would be disappointed with the falling out they had if she were still alive. Rusty must have dozed off some in the furrow behind the horses with the plow with thoughts of his mother’s comforting smile.

’Ruuuustttty! Rusty!”

Rusty thought he heard his name but was not sure until he heard the barking and yelp of old Sherlock , his hound, coming his way.

Rusty Clapper! Are you OKay?

Rusty propped himself up onto his elbow. ‘I’m over here!” he yelled back.

It was Evelyn, she came out to find him. Tears welled up some in his eyes as Sherlock waddled up wagging his tail and licking his face pushing him back to the ground. ‘Ohh come on boy not now. Ouch! Not that leg boy! Off me now!” Rusty reached in his pocket and gave Sherlock the treat he was looking for. Rusty always kept one in his pocket in case Sherlock needed to find him. He knew Sherlock worked for food like the rest of us. “Now lay down boy or you’ll spook the damn horses.”

”What on earth happened out here! It looks like you could have been killed!” said Evelyn as she made her way over the turned clumps of plowed earth. “ I’m doing okay but I think I might have broke my leg” said Rusty, as Evelyn stumbled towards him.

“Mercy! How long have you been out here like this!”

”Ohh just a few hours..you know..I just laid down and had a little nap is all.”

”Rusty I told you to sell those horses. Your going to get yourself killed!”

”Now Evelyn I need you to listen carefully because I need you to unhook Abe and take him back to the barn and hook him up to the rock sled. Then come back so I can get to the road. I’ll tell you exactly what to do.’ Rusty instructed.

“First unhook the evener from the tug line on the back of Abe here and then the line connecting his bit to Jacob. Next unhook the evener from the other side and then last unhook the neck yoke. Always unhook the neck yoke last in case they take off.

“Rusty Clapper your going to be the death of me! Back Abe..back..back.. Abe a little… Hooo!”

Once Evelyn got slack in the line she unhooked the eveners on both sides of the team and then went to the front and unhooked the neck yoke. It made a heavy clink as it dropped it to the ground. She unhooked big Abe and led him back beside the plow. Standing on the plow tire, she swung up on the tall horse.

”Okay I’ll be right back! You don’t move Rusty Clapper! Keep Sherlock here with you and the horses.”

”Be careful hooking to the sled. Remember, always hook the neck yoke first. Abe is good with the sled and knows what to do. He won’t give you to much trouble but go easy!” Said Rusty, shading his eyes to see Evelyn on top the tall work horse.

”Okay don’t worry I’ll be right back. Abe.. step up..easy Abe..good boy!”

The large workhorse knew his way back home. As a matter of fact, a little to well. Anytime Rusty had the horses standing, he knew if big Abe was in the team not to have him stand in the direction of the barn or he might feel the need to return home a bit early.

Evelyn returned no time flat and helped Rusty roll out of the furrow and onto the sled. On the somewhat painful and bumpy ride home, with his hound and the two other large horses, Sam and Jacob trailing behind, Rusty thought himself quite lucky. After having worked so hard and coming so far he thought maybe he even enjoyed his sufferings a bit. What a great day to be in a procession with horses stepping slowly down the road and being alive to enjoy it.

There may not have been a Rusy Clapper, Big Abe , or a corn field on Crow Hill, but somewhere someplace someone was forced to have a time of relection. This is my story about my town so I get to tell it how I like.

Written By,

Al Wayman

Artist/Owner

Creek Road Pottery LLC

If you enjoyed this post and are a lover of pottery, sign up for our newsletter and become a raging fan.

 

It was a long month after my Spring show 2022. It was sure nice to see everyone out, and I very much appreciated the support. I was able to finish the candle project that ran long and all of that happened just before we got the big April snow storm, and we lost power for 3 days. Three days was not bad for us, as some were out for six or more days with trees on the lines.

No pots were made as I worked to file taxes and iron out the bookwork that seems to be tangled up like a box of Christmas lights. A friend who is an accountant and a fire brand Libertarian went through my books and made the crooked straight in no time flat. She had all kinds of hard conversations with me about my bookkeeping and financial management. So I had to make some tough changes to keep things moving along.


Burnout

Burnout happens slowly over time and is something that seems to run in cycles. After the Spring show, I did not want to see another pot and was happy to fire the kilns and finish things up with a load of dark rusty red iron glazed pieces. Most of those were for the wet shave community and work to update the shops. It was nice to make the rounds and see and talk with the shop owners. I took images of some work to load into my online shop.

When the snow came and the lights went out, My wife and I dug out the camping supplies, the old time Colman stove, oil lamps, and hooked up the propane heater to keep the place warm. Once the power was restored and things were back to normal, I intended to go back to the studio after a few folks sent me messages looking for work, but I was a bit too exhausted still.

To deal with burnout, I let it run its course. At many jobs, you get vacation time to work out such things. But for me personally, I spend most of my vacation making pots and take only a few days each year to go camping. Also, I try and balance life and work to maintain good relationships with family.

Reading books is also relaxing for me and also project planning, marketing, website updates, and cleaning the studio helps. It is ok to take breaks. It is ok to read books. It is ok to take time with loved ones and do other things you might enjoy, as time is limited, and you never get it back.

I always try and ask, “If I was living yesterday a second time, what would I do differently?” It seems to put things into perspective. If I live to be 86 from today, I only have 14, 168 days left to do all the things I wish to accomplish and to try new things. 14,168 days left to impact those around me in positive ways and create positive change if I can.

All of those things combined become who I am and come out in the work though my hands when I do come back to create once more. Even in the Hebrew biblical texts, the Creator rested after seven days.

Maybe he was a bit burned out after it all. Maybe he needed to create the man and the woman as a hobby to relax. Maybe the Creator did some gardening to relax some and see what would happen.

It seems that I was not the only one burned out. Even the preacher seemed to be stumped working his sermon Saturday morning down at the  Wright Choice Diner in town.


The Preacher

There was a worn bible, a few commentary books, and papers of handwritten notes all over table three in the corner where preacher Mansfield sat. It looked like he was having a real hard time working things out that Saturday morning as he attempted to write his Sunday sermon.

Poor guy looks a bit flustered today.” said big Jimmy, the owner and cook, as he brought out my eggs.

Yes Sir! He sure does.” I say.

Maybe folks will be lucky and get a short sermon tomorrow. Since he took over preaching, everyone’s Sunday dinner roasts have been burned, as he’s a bit long-winded. They all had to go out and buy crock pots.”

Haaa! Well that’s good for me here at the ol Best Choice. If they burn dinner, I might get to see everyone Sundays. Now if I was smart I would run a roast beef, potato and gravy special. I should go over there and see what’s on his mind.”

Now most of the time you would see the good Reverend Mansfield there at the corner table each Saturday morning writing away like his life depended on it.

He would be writing down the divine words that poured from the heavens, words that seeped out of the bible texts, though his hand, out his pen, and onto the notebook page. And if you knew any better, you did not disrupt such a process.

The waitress Missy would keep refilling his coffee for him as it seemed to be the fuel to the fire until he was finished around lunch. He would then collect all his notes and stuff them in his bible between the pages his sermon came from to save the spot.

The preacher would then pile up his commentaries and supporting materials and put them under his arm and head out the door. He always seemed to forget to leave a tip, a habit that put Missy over the edge, and also hampered her church attendance a bit, but we are all working on something.

How are things today, Reverend?”

Here is some toast on the house. Someone accidentally got rye but ordered wheat.”

Big Jimmy pulled up a chair while the preacher shoved his books and papers aside and made room for the plate.

I’m not sure what to preach on tomorrow, Jimmy. I usually have it all down by now, but today I got nothing.”

Well, I could get you some stronger coffee if you like?”

Naww, I’m okay for now..thanks anyway.”

I just think God’s people can do better. I am having a real bad time getting folks to follow the gospel teachings outside the church doors. It seems folks forget everything I told them once they get to the parking lot.”

Big Jimmy rubbed his chin in thought.

Well preacher, maybe you should get out more. I see plenty of folks who might not be all that Baptist and are a bit shady doing gospel things. I don’t attend and all, but as a kid I remember that story of Sampson, a shady guy for sure, always getting into trouble, becoming a hero pushing over the pillars. And ol King David sleeping around. All those folks somehow got their names right there in the good book. Maybe push “doing” for a bit instead of only “believing.”

Yeah..you might be right Jimmy.”

It was at that time, Missy came up to the table for a word with big Jimmy.

Hey Jimmy, Billy Mott’s here. He ordered a coffee. I asked if he wanted anything else, and he said he had no money, wanted  just a coffee. His mother spent all the money this month on beer and only on some of bills. The guy looks hungry. You told me to let you know when he’s here and..well.. he’s here.”

Okay Miss. Thanks. “ said big Jimmy as he leaned over to see Billy Mott around the preacher.

Yeah I‘m not sure what I should do. Maybe I’ll come up with something a bit later. Maybe I can hook up some text out of the book of James on how works and faith need to match up for things to work right. But I worry folks may also forget that. Maybe I got my calling wrong. I feel like a real failure in this town Jimmy.”

Big Jimmy missed that last part. He was still watching Billy Mott sitting having a warm coffee and shaking off the cold from the early Spring morning air. He did look a bit hungry. Big Jimmy signaled Missy with his hand to have her stop over.

Yeah Jimmy?”

Ahhh shit…Hey, go back there and have the kitchen cook up three eggs over easy..two pieces of toast, bacon, and ahh..one pancake..and have them bring it out to Billy over there..and if Mr. Mott gives you any shit about it tell him I said to shut up and eat it.”

Okay Jimmy..got it.” said Missy, writing it all down.

The guy looks like he hasn’t had anything in days. I might need to go talk to his mother again over at the trailer. Billy does great taking care of her, but it looks like things are getting bad again.”

Okay I’ll have it made up. You going over there now Jimmy?” asked Miss.

If so I’ll let them know in the back.”

Yeah.. I’ll take a walk over. I won’t be long. She was going to AA, but looks like she stopped. I’ll get her back there if I have to drag her there myself.”

Well have a good one preacher. Hope you get something by morning.”

With that, big Jimmy got up and left the table, with his apron on and all, and walked out the Best Choice door. As Missy made her way to the back to put in big Jimmy’s request, the heavens finally cracked open a bit on the preacher and rained down the sweet showers of understanding. His face went white and his eyes filled with tears.

How could I miss it. It was all right here the whole time. Right here in this town, in this diner, in the cook big Jimmy. The same big Jimmy who made shady deals out back on the steps, the guy who swore like a sailor at the dishwasher for breaking mugs, the guy who stayed up late playing poker with friends, the guy whose shadow never darkened the Baptist church door was now doing all the things I myself have missed.”

I need to cancel church tomorrow.” The good reverend thought to himself.

I need to cancel church and tell everyone to just do a good thing tomorrow for someone..an act of selfless kindness, no matter how small or big..without thinking on the selfish desires of heaven.”

With that the preacher jumped up, left a 5 dollar tip, and ran out the door to catch up with Jimmy. He would go with the cook to help with the chat. He thought maybe he owed Jimmy for the help.

There may not have been a Billy Mott, Big Jimmy , or a Preacher, but somewhere someplace someone forgot themselves in helping others. This is my story about my town so I get to tell it how I like.

 

Written By,Al Wayman

Artist/Owner

Creek Road Pottery LLC

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I was supposed to get up at 6 am to get the kilns going but hit my snooze button twice and got up at 6:30 instead. I made a coffee and looked out the window at the second heavy frost of the year. Mrs. Smith’s black and white tomcat was sitting on the pottery porch watching a rabbit hop across the frozen grass and into the brush at the edge of the lawn. By 7:30 am, I had the glaze clean-up done on about sixty pot bottoms and started to load them out in the cold, stopping every once and a while to take sips of my steaming coffee. The candle cups with the blue glaze would need to go on the bottom shelves while the farmhouse green cups went on the middle and top shelves as this kiln runs hotter up top. I have one kiln that runs hot on the top and another gas kiln that runs hot on the bottom. Correct placement is important as each shelf puts out a different effect and color due to the temperature difference. My phone buzzed at 7:30 am. It was a message from Sandy. 

R u up yet?” 

I took off my glove and typed out, “Yes. Loading kilns what’s going on?”  

On my way. b there 8:30” 

K,” I type back. 

Sandy is a middle-aged lady with red hair who goes all in on almost everything she does and works sales for her day job. At 8:53 she pulls in as I am lowering the updraft kiln lid. “Sorry I’m 23 minutes late,” she says. “My horse got out, and I had to put him back in. When he gets out all the goats follow but thank goodness they all follow back also. 4H and goat shows have me running around like crazy. I did get your soaps made up for you.” 

Well, that’s good they follow like that. Now if that were a pig, they would never go back in the same hole,” I say. 

Yeah, the old guy got cut some on his leg from the fence, but I was able to fix him up by spraying blue coat on it. He should be fine,” Sandy says, brushing her hair out of her eyes. “He’s a real good boy but getting old.” 

I wonder if her horse is anything like Magic, I think to myself.

 

Photo by Zosia Korcz on Unsplash

It was the start of “The Best Summer Ever” when I was a kid. That was the summer when the stray dog showed up that could do tricks, where us kids swam in the cool Starrucca Creek, and Uncle Will brought home a pony we named Magic. Aunt Barb suggested the name because he had blue eyes. She thought it made the pony look magical. As we stroked the pony’s mane, we all had to agree. We took turns riding Magic all summer over at Aunt Barb and Uncle Will’s. When we stopped for lunch, Aunt Barb would make us all peanut butter sandwiches and give us each one hot bean made by Uncle Will himself. Along with the bean was a small cup of milk to tame the burn. We would all sit on the porch steps and eat before taking turns riding Magic. The pony worked hard that summer. We knew better not to fight too loud while taking turns. If there was any trouble, Aunt Barb would make both offending parties stand and hug each other in the middle of the yard to think about things while the other kids went your turn on the horse for you. 

Sandy handed me a box. “Here are ten shave soap pucks, we can do a trade. I also have this old kiln you can have if you help me get on Square. I have a sale at a farmer’s market next week” 

Well, that sure is a lot. I’ll pay you for the kiln. Getting on Square is no real trouble,” I say. 

I had the buddy gas heater going in the pottery shed. Sandy took a seat in a yard folding chair and I in another beside her, and we both got out our phones to go through it all. It didn’t take too long, and we got it all done before the next kiln check. The cones in both kilns dropped just in time to give me an hour of sleep before a 12-hour night shift at the paper factory. When I returned, snow clouds were in the sky. The wind was cold, and the air was crisp. I added four pieces of wood to the stove while the candle cups started to cool. To stay warm, I thought warm thoughts. Like thoughts on that Best Summer Ever and that pony named Magic.

Sandy made out ok at the sale. It’s ok to take time out to help others. Some names and events were changed, but there truly was a Best Summer Ever and a pony named Magic. This is my story about my town, and childhood, so I get to tell it how I like.

Written By,
Al Wayman
Artist/Owner
Creek Road Pottery LLC

Edited by:
Erika Sickler
Content Writer/ Editor
Creek Road Pottery LLC

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Pick Yourself

It took me a long time to get back to pottery this year but no longer than last year. Maybe I was waiting for someone to pick me to do something rather than just starting. It can be a bit scary to just start, as you would like to play it safe and wait until everyone and everything is ready. Maybe I was waiting for inspiration, a better idea, for the right weather, for some gallery to pick me to make a commission, for some customer to pick me to make a plate setting. Today I thought I would pick myself and just start making pots. By just starting, I do mess up but get better as I go. Just starting means you’re on the hook for ideas that may not work. Not starting could mean you were not ready to fail. But if you make art, you fail many times as it’s part of the process.

But today I told myself I would fail, and it felt great. We go to our jobs as they tell us in school. They train us to follow all the processes that would guarantee success, to make all the normal things for normal folks to make money for the stockholders and for our families. But if those above us fail from being too normal, we still lose our jobs. Normal is a race to the bottom and too normal is bankruptcy as normal folks can buy it anywhere. I don’t ever want to make normal work at the pottery for normal folks. Folks like us do things different.

Others can buy those normal pots at normal places like Walmart and Amazon. And to get better, I may mess up a bunch. I’m putting myself out there and taking chances to connect with those who may enjoy what I do. If I can just make a few things and show it to a few folks, maybe they will show it to a few other folks, and then I might be on to something. If I pick myself and nothing happens, then maybe I need better work that communicates, creates change in some way, and connects with people.

As the great marketing philosopher Seth Godin says:

“It’s up to us if we are picking ourselves to decide what we want to be known for. It’s essential that we not permit ourselves or anyone else deniability just because it’s ‘doing my job.’ I think if you’re doing your job, you’re responsible for the work whether or not someone asks you to do it.”

You and I can make a statement or give a gift to the world. There is no better time, and we can reach a world of people by just a few clicks. We do not need permission to pick ourselves, nor do we have any gatekeepers to tell us what we can or can’t do. We can simply start and see what changes we can make to the world around us, even when those who are far more normal, looking for normal things may disagree. Many may not like what we start or finish, but that’s ok; it was not for them, but for the few on the edges. You will be surprised how much is on the edges by picking yourself and just starting. By starting on a journey, you may find yourself in strange places doing new, exciting things, and helping others–like waiting on the kamikaze corner on the Clapper Hill bend.

Rusty Clapper’s Cow

It was 7:00 am when Rusty Clapper finished milking. He had to finish on time as today was the day the milk truck would come at 8:00 am. Rusty had a cow that was almost ready to freshen, and he needed to clean the pen. He thought it would be safer to put her across the road in the small pasture, as the ol’ gal was a bit jumpy, and he didn’t want to spook her and all from cleaning the pen and laying down bedding. She went across the road real nice and easy. Rusty went to cleaning the pen. He fluffed up the bedding extra special. 

Everything was running smoothly until Rusty tried to lead the cow back across the road. 

Now Rusty Clapper never in all his life had seen nor heard of a cow simply laying down while crossing the road. He had never thought that his milk cow would end up stopping traffic for the better part of the day because of where the cow decided to rest. It was on the sharp bend on Clapper Hill right in the middle, leaving no room for traffic on either side as the right had a large maple tree and the left side had a deep ditch. Many a good folk not from the area would have issues making kamikaze corner on the Clapper Hill bend. It was more like a 90 degree turn with no S shape at all with no sign because a big water truck took it out six months back when they lost their breaks. Rusty made good money pulling folks out of his field up there, and he always had a tractor ready when someone would knock. Rusty Clapper yelled to the barn for the boys to come out and lend a hand with his cow. He had to yell as they had no cell phones at the barn because you could not get a signal anyway up on Kamikaze Corner on the Clapper Hill bend.

Rusty Clapper had one of the boys park the John Deere tractor in the road on one end to warn traffic, and his Oliver tractor on the other end to do the same. By now there was an extensive line as the gas company was fracking a big well on Clapper Hill and water trucks, log trucks, and the milk truck in the back all came to a halt due to Rusty Clapper’s cow. Folks were getting out and gathering around the cow to see if they could help old Rusty in some way while others took video of the event. Rusty formulated an action plan and told his younger boy to run and get the four-wheeler and chain and drag up an old car hood. The plan Rusty had would be to have a bunch of guys like us help him shove the milk cow over on the hood real easy like and simply slide her out of the road. So, with the four-wheeler hooked to the car hood we all tried pushing Rusty’s cow over. “Ok, hold up boys. I see feet sticking out the back.” says Rusty. We all looked, and he was right. The cow was calving right there on Kamikaze Corner on the Clapper Hill bend.

“Well, I better run to the barn and get the pulling chains and a pail of water. We better pull the calve here if we can before we try to move her.” Some guys took a break to call in late on the one-half cell signal bar the milkman found further up the road and others had a smoke while we all waited for Rusty Clapper to come back from the Milk house. It took another hour to get the calf delivered into the road. Things like calving can’t be rushed, no matter where you might be going. While waiting, Rusty told us all just last year he had six cows freshen Easter Sunday morning all the same time, and he missed church. Once the calf was pulled from its mother and into the road, Rusty cleared its nose and throat, then tied off the cord and drug the calf around front to let the new mother clean things up some as we all stood around waiting for the ordeal to be over with. “Well, she might have milk fever.” said Rusty. “I better go get a bottle of calcium gluconate and the IV.”

When Rusty Clapper got back, he pushed the IV needle into a vein in the milk cow’s neck and had Milkman Dan hold the bottle up. “Ok. Maybe that’s why she laid down in the first place. She’ll be good as new in a few minutes, guys. Thanks for stopping by today, Dan.” Rusty said, making a joke as the calcium emptied into the cow’s blood stream. “You got my Milk check payment in your pocket or is it in the truck?” 

“Yeah I do.” says Milkman Dan handing Rusty an envelope. “But I should take part of it as payment for a late fee and a vet bill.” 

“Well, that would be hard to do Dan.” said Rusty smiling. “Not unless you rip a corner off and take it with you. But they may not cash it at the bank.” 

“Shut the hell up and get moving,” said Milkman Dan with a cigarette hanging from his lips. “My hands are cold.”

Rusty Clapper then gave the cow a slap on the back, and she stood up like she had someplace to go. We all clapped. As folks walked back to their vehicles, Rusty and the boys moved the cow and calf to the barn, then went to work removing all the cow-moving emergency equipment from the road. Rusty waved us all though like he was managing an accident scene. The whole event on Clapper Hill made Facebook and everyone in the area sent in hearts upon seeing the calf delivery out on Kamikaze Corner on the Clapper Hill bend.

There might not have been a real calf delivery up there on Clapper Hill, and there may not be a real Rusty Clapper. But there is a real Kamikaze Corner on the Clapper Hill bend, and I got to meet that maple tree up real close and personal. This is my story about my town. So, I get to tell it how I like.

Written By Al Wayman:
Artist/Owner
Creek Road Pottery LLC

Edited by:
Erika Sickler
Content Writer/ Editor
Creek Road Pottery LLC

 

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Downtime –

I have been thinking and reading a lot of books while I come out of a time of direction setting and planning. Making the pots is only 20% of running a pottery buisness.  The other 80% is getting the work out to folks who might enjoy it.  I need to get back to working on the 20% as I have been down far to long already to think things over on the 80%.  Good ideas are only good if one can follow though with them.  I now have all the foundation tools in place to have a great year but just need to start working with them. 

I learned that downtime is a thing not to feel guilty about as I foud it refreshing and a time to think and learn.  Also there is no reason to light yourself onfire to keep others warm.  We can only help others by keeping ourselves healthy. Taking time for self care, family, books, and thinking is very important. I always look forward to the month I take of down time over the hoildays to relax and also come up with new and exciting things for the new year. 

Over the break I was able to work at a few of the art shops and galleries and had a great time chatting with both customers and other artist.  I was able to generate some idea for collaborations. We not only sell our work as artist but we also sell stories. At times that story can be communicated though the work.  Other times it is told though the community one becomes a part of if they chooose after buying the work.  I am feeling very positive about the new year and hope 2022 allows me to get more of my functional work into the hands of famlies so they can enjoy using authentic handmade art in their every day lives.  

Below is a short story I wrote for you all.  It is about somthing that might happen in a small town near you if you only take the time to look.  Story elements are everywhere. Hiding under carpets, in closets, under beads. We just need to go find them all, stuff them in a bag then dump them all out on some life table and look at what we have collected.  Here is a story about Billy Mott’s Boots.  Hope you all have a great year!




Billy Mott’s Boots – 




There was a big box propped up on edge next to the mail box on the snow bank for Billy Mott last year Black Friday weekend. We all knew because Debbie Johnson told us all when she stopped in for a coffee at the Wright Choice Diner, while walking her dog. It looked like it was from someone in Plano Texas to Billy Mott. Big Jimmy , the owner and cook thought maybe it was from Billy’s oil rich uncle.


Billy Mott lived with his alcoholic mother in a small camper down by the tracks. He lost his father two years ago Thanksgiving after being hit by a train when he sat down to have a beer on the tracks out back and dozed off a bit. “It sure was a terrible thing.” Said big Jimmy shaking his head. “The whole town knew something bad happen when they heard the train breaks lock up.”

“Yeah it sure was terrible.” Says old Danny Taylor. “I was out on the porch having a smoke and I heard it . I live clear up in Wyalusing almost 10 miles away. A long load of fracking sand is hard to stop at 45 miles an hour.” “Yeah that sure is sad.” I say. “Yeah the whole town was down there almost..Ill never forget it.” said big Jimmy shaking his head.

“Billy lives down by the tracks now in the trailer doing the best he can to take care of his mother. I give him a warm plate on the house when he stops by some times All he seems to do is hang out in that old tin shed. I went down one time to see if I could borrow some gas for the lawn mower.” Says big Jimmy. “All they have in there is an old wheel horse tractor and some old paint cans. Billy sits in there on rusted out folding chair next to a big buddy propane heater. Says he likes to sit in there and think. So I didn’t push anything or get nosy on a guy who likes to think and all.” “Yeah I don’t blame you.” I say.

Gloria Mansfield knew what Billy was doing in the shed. Gloria was the Baptist preacher’s wife and Sunday school teacher at the big church in town. Some Baptists tend to run a tight ship on moral regulations. Living in a glass house plus home schooling your children in the Christian way can be stressful at times keeping up with expectations. A friend who pretends not to know you at the liquor store and a place in hiding to have a drink to take the edge off some makes a world of difference on how well you carry the Lord’s heavy cross he laid down on your shoulders.

Gloria found her new hiding spot from the pressure of the ministry and the kids when she walked over to Billy Mott’s to borrow some white paint to finish off the garden fence she was working on. Since then she went back a bunch more times to borrow things, then stayed to chat and have a swig , and a few quick visits turned into an hour or so long therapy sessions.

Billy Mott was a good listener and Gloria would unload all her burdens. She talked about gossip, church dissension, and even her love life. It didn’t even bother good Billy Mott when she started naming names. He wouldn’t say a thing as he sat thinking. But the day the big box came things started to change up a bit for the better.

What’s in the the box you got there Billy Mott?” asked Gloria. “Anyways, I brought your snow shovel back.” She leaned the shovel against the shed wall and went to the corner shelf and grabbed her flask from behind the paint cans. Gloria then climbed up on the lawn tractor seat, sitting backward letting her feet dangle over it’s back wheels. “Well come on! Open it up and see what you got.” She said taking a swig. “I’m not sure what it could be.” Mumbled Billy.

Billy Mott brush off the snow from the big box and squinted to slowly read the label. “ From: Warren D. Mott 126 Corporate Drive Plano Texas..Yeah its from Uncle Warren..he’s rich.” Said Billy. “Well Open it up Billy!” Said Gloria jumping down off the tractor. She found an old metal paint can opener and handed it to Billy. “Here cut the tape with this.” Billy sliced though all 4 layers of tape as whoever packed the box up did a great job. Brown wrapping paper filled the box as packing and in side that two objects wrapped in white tissue paper. With paper flying Billy reached in and unwrapped the gifts inside. He held up the first object, a western cowboy boot and a second just like it to make a pair.

”Wow..they sure a beautiful! Hey Billy look there! The tag is still on them. What are they worth.” Billy squinted and read the tag Uncle Warren must have forgot to remove. “$350.00” Billy read. Now Billy did not own hardly anything that was $350 dollars. Let alone boots. “Well try them on!” pushed Gloria taking another swig from her flask. Billy slipped in one foot and they looked like $350.00 but a bit tight. Gloria pointed out that at the factory they wad up paper and place them in the toes to hold the form.

Billy took off his boot, knocked out the paper and slipped it back on. It was a little loose now but perfect if he wore wool socks. “Nice!” Said Billy as he stood there looking down admiring his 350.00 boots. “Yeah real nice!” said Gloria. “Well I’ll need to hide these from mom. She would sell them on me I know. I’ll just leave them out here and wear them for special things maybe.” Said Billy still looking down and wiggling his toes.

Billy Mott needed a reason to wear his $350.00 boots. Like some place he could go special where his mother would not be with him. He thought about it some over the next few days. On the TV Billy’s mom love watching the country music channel, and as she fell asleep with a beer and cigarette in her hand Billy would watch to, and one night he had an idea when he seen a beautiful county girl in real nice boots teach country line dance steps. “I could learn the Achy Breaky.” Billy thought. He scribbled down step directions of what he could real quick on an old CVS receipt.

Back then everyone was doing the Achy Breaky and if you were doing all of that with a bunch of people and if some of those people were pretty girls even better. “ Well folks will pick on me and all so I would have to learn some in the shed just to see. I mean I wouldn’t think of doing anything like that in public. Hell way out here they don’t even country line dance.” It was 10 p.m. and cold that night, but Billy Mott went to the shed, pushed out the tractor, and laid down a 4ft by 8ft rotted out particle board on the floor.

Billy bought the cassette tape of Billy Ray from the Walt-Mart store and dug though the junk drawer in the trailer and found his old walk-men. Under his bed in a box of electronics and playboy magazines he found his two speaker boom box. “Where you going with that?” asked mom. No where special.” Said Billy “ Can you run to the gas station and get me some smokes dear? Here is a Twenty. Get yourself a soda with what’s left..there should be a dollar twenty five left after taxes for you. And for the love of all that is holy stay away from the damn tracks!” “Ok will do Mum.” said Billy, stuffing the twenty in his pocket. He stopped by the shed, cleared a shelf of paint cans, and set the boom box down then headed to the store.

For the next few weeks leading up to Christmas Billy Mott would practice the Achy Breaky Heart in the shed in his Three-Hundred and fifty dollar boots off the steps he had written on the faded CVS receipt just like the pretty girl in boots said on TV. “Step right to side, cross left behind right, step right to side, hold Bump hips left, right, left, hold Touch right toe back, touch right toe forward, cross/touch right over left, Unwind ¾ left (weight to right) Step left back, step right back Hitch left knee turn ¼ left, step left together..” Gloria came back to borrow the snow shovel again and seen Billy practicing dance steps though the cracked window of the rusted shed. The tractor was pushed outside. The catchy sound of Achy Breaky could be heard though the empty screw holes in the wall.

”What are you up to Billy?” Said Gloria, surprising the tall skinny string bean of a man in three-hundred and fifty dollar cowboy boots. Billy froze. Gloria hit the stop button on the tape deck and got her flask and opened up the folding chair next to the heater and sat down and took a sip. “ It’s ok Billy Mott. I won’t tell anyone what’s going on and I am not going to pick on you one bit. From what I have seen here you are one good dancer. Now get back over there and we’ll go from the top! I would dance to help you but I’m Baptist and I’m not allowed to dance and all. Okay you ready? From the top” Gloria rewound the tape and hit play.

”You can tell the world you never was my girl You can burn my clothes when I’m gone Or you can tell your friends just what a fool I’ve been And laugh and joke about me on the phone..” sang Billy Ray though the boom box speakers.

There was not much Billy Mott could do but go along with what was going on and so he did the steps the best he could with what he had memorized off the CVS receipt with Gloria clapping in time. He was messing up the fourth and last part of the steps as he was just getting that part down.. Turn ¼ right and step right forward, stamp left together. Turn ½ left and step left forward, stamp right together …and that was it the receipt had ripped loosing the rest of the steps.

“ I’m missing a section. Said Billy stopping. “The last section. I had it written down but..” “oooh Hell! Come on Billy I’ll show you.” Gloria took a swig from her flask “We can do it together.” Said Gloria smiling. “But I thought you didn’t..” “ Never mind I practiced at home a bit…if you don’t tell I won’t tell.” Gloria stood next to Billy Mott. “Now that last part your missing is Step right to side, cross left behind right, step right to side, stomp left together then clap. Like this!” Gloria did a run though. “Okay from the top!”

The sun was setting low on that short winter day by time Gloria and Billy Mott wearing his three hundred and fifty dollar boots had all the steps to the Achy Breaky line dance down. The good Baptist preacher was just finishing up the sermon in his study while he also kept an eye on the kids. “Back from the women’s bible study already dear?” asked the good minister as Gloria came in. “ Yeah I had a real nice time. I’ll start dinner.”

Billy ran though the steps a few more times back at the shed and he had it nailed down like roofing paper. “ I bet I could go on TV right now.” Billy Mott fantasized. The crowd went wild in his head as he finished up the last steps and took a bow. Tomorrow night was Christmas eve. On every Christmas eve they had free Jukebox night over at Millie’s Bar. Billy Mott thought he might wear his three hundred dollar boots to the event. That is if his mum didn’t go.

A light snow was falling when Billy Mott made it to the Millie’s bar Christmas eve. Mom decided to stay home so Billy made a quick change into his Three Hundred and fifty dollar boots out at the shed and walked up to town. There was just a small crowd there so far when Billy Mott came in and sat up to the bar. Chuck the owner was working the bar and passed Billy Mott a beer. Billy went to reach into his pocket to pay but Chuck waved it off. “Naww first one is on me Billy Mott. Merry Christmas!” “Thanks Chuck. Merry Christmas to you also.” “How’s Mom? She doing okay?” Asked Chuck. ‘ Hanging in there.” replied Billy “Well tell her I said hello!” “ Ok will do Chuck. Thanks so much for all you do for us and this town.” Said Billy Mott. “ None of that. Shut up and drink your beer before it gets warm and I charge you for it.” said Chuck smiling.

As the night moved on more folks from town filed into Millie’s. The Jukebox was playing non stop and folks were catching up with each other, Milkman Dan talking farm stories with Eddie Baker, Big Jimmy talking shop with Dave from the hardware store, and Mike the Mailman hitting on the bar girls and buying attention with his large tips. It was sure cozy in the happy dimly lit Millie’s bar there in small town Christmas eve. It was 9:00 p.m. when someone played the Achy Breaky.

Billy knew it was 9:00 P.M. when they played the Achy Breaky Christmas Eve at Millie’s bar that night because the song came on just as he was two beers in and was getting ready to head back home to the trailer with mom. He checked the time. At the very start of Achy Breaky, for Billy Mott, the whole world stopped for a bit as he felt conflicted in his mind on just what to do. It might have been the two beers he had that lowered his inhibition making him feel brave, maybe the small town Christmas cheer he felt, or some once in a life time opportunity he was confronted with, but for some reason he went to the center of the bar floor in his three hundred and fifty dollar boots to do the Achy Breaky.

The first time though went smooth as butter. Folks were still talking but got real quite when they discovered Billy Mott doing the steps so perfect in time almost as if he had been practicing. It was total concentration in Billy Motts head. All he could hear was the music, folks clapping in time, and Gloria’s counting in his mind. He finished it out ith ease, a state so perfect, like a reflex. At the end the music stopped. No one said a word. You could hear a pin drop. “What the hell did I just see? Hey Dan play that again! Will you?” Yelled Chuck before anyone could move or say a word.

”You can tell the world you never was my girl You can burn my clothes when I’m gone Or you can tell your friends just what a fool I’ve been And laugh and joke about me on the phone..”

Billy Mott stepped the whole thing out perfect. This time the bar girls came in beside him and his Three Hundred and fifty dollar boots and did the line dance. Billy Mott was almost in heaven as everyone clapped in time.

“Don’t tell my heart my achy breaky heart…

I just don’t think he’d understand

And if you tell my heart my achy breaky heart

He might blow up and kill this man…”

Turn ¼ right and step right forward, stamp left together Turn ½ left and step left forward, stamp right together Step right to side, cross left behind right, step right to side, stomp left together clap.

At the end everyone at Millie’s bar gave a big cheer and clapped loud for Billy Mott. The two girls turned him red by each giving him a kiss on the cheek and everyone put in for another round and bought Billy Mott a beer. “How Much for the boots?” Yelled a voice from the back. The whole place went silent. “ They are not for sale Dan! Mind your own business.” Yelled Chuck from the Bar. “ He’s a grown man he can answer for himself.” Said Milkman Dan. “Don’t know.” Said Billy Mott. How much will you give me for them. They were a gift to me.” Said Billy as he finished his beer.

”I’ll give you one hundred and fifty cash right now.” said Milkman Dan. “Come on Dan you’ll need to do better then that. Leave the guy alone!” Chuck said annoyed. Billy Mott remembered he didn’t get his mum a gift. Even though she smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish she did make sure he got lunch every day. French toast every morning with coffee and one can of condensed chicken noodle soup with one half can of water added to fill the bowl with a side of toast. If Billy Mott didn’t buy her a gift no one else would and it was up to him to look after his mum if he was a real man. “Man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” he mumbled to himself.

” Alright you have a deal.” Said Billy Mott slipping off the three hundred fifty dollar boots. Billy Mott stood at the bar in his wool socks as Milkman Dan counted out the money. Once in hand Billy Mott turned to Chuck and said. “One case of Coors Light please.” “No way!” said Chuck ‘Not doing it!” “I didn’t get Mum a gift and she likes drinking Coors. So one case of Coors light please Chuck.” Chuck slowly walked to the back cold room shaking his head. He returned and placed the case of beer on the bar as Billy paid him. After paying, and with the case of beer under his arm he spent the rest of the money on tickets over at the big lotto machine, folded them all up, and went out the door into the wet snow and rain. They say the last song played to close down Millie’s bar that night was one by old John Prine:

”For pity’s a crime and it ain’t worth a dime to a person who’s really in need, Just treat them the same as you would your own name next time that your heart starts to bleed. “

We are all not to sure what happened after that but some say there were foot prints all the way back to the trailer from Milly’s bar that night. Also we heard later that Gloria felt the good Lord telling her to take up a collection at the church to send down to Billy Mott.  Now there might not be a shed, a Millie’s bar, or a Billy Mott. But there was for sure a pair of three hundred and fifty dollar pair of boots that went a long way to making folks happy that Christmas. This is my story about my town so I get to tell it how I like.

Written By,
Al Wayman
Artist/Owner
Creek Road Pottery LLC

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When I stop in at the diner on the way home after night shift Missy the waitress gets me my own mug off the rack and fills it with coffee. She lets me fall asleep in it a bit before she asks if I would like the usual. Two eggs over easy, two pieces of rye toast, one pancake, and bacon.
Missy says winter is on the way..it might be a bad one…the coyote’s tails are real bushy this year..she saw one cross the road on the way in.. She don’t like the snow, as it’s hard for her to walk with her hip the way it is. She was in a car accident a few years back and now walks with a limp.
Charlie, the owner of the bar Eva’s stops by at 8:00 am for a ham and cheese omelette. Charlie had a rough time the other night after closing. A patron while walking home fell over a bank. He was found sleeping in the rose bushes by a lady walking her dog so she called it in to 911. When Jimmy woke to flashing lights, he refused treatment and thought he would be ok to finish the walk. The police decided to take him in because he had the same issue a few months back and was let off with a warning. Jimmy got a large fine, we all were told.
Missy is getting her hair done today and maybe her nails. She chipped one on the screen door when she went out for a smoke real quick while on break. If I needed anything, I could just ring the bell..she told me all of that while refilling my coffee.
Good Morning America on the TV said more rain, they started cutting corn over on the Miller farm, and I have pots to fire out.

“I plied the fire with fresh fuel round the outside and upon the top, till I saw the pots in the inside red-hot quite through and observed that they did not crack at all. When I saw them clear red, I let them stand in that heat about five or six hours, till I found one of them, though it did not crack, did melt or run; for the sand which was mixed with the clay melted by the violence of the heat, and would have run into glass if I had gone on; so I slacked my fire gradually till the pots began to abate of the red colour; and watching them all night, that I might not let the fire abate too fast, in the morning I had three very good (I will not say handsome) pipkins, and two other earthen pots, as hard burnt as could be desired, and one of them perfectly glazed with the running of the sand.”   –  The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. By Daniel Defoe.


You can do it! Many who wish to make pottery might be deterred by thinking they need a pottery wheel, kiln, or other equipment to start making pots. But the truth is all you need is a lump of clay and your imagination, and you can make your very first pottery projects. If Robinson Crusoe, who was stranded on an island made pots, so can you!  It is so easy a caveman can do it! Wait…they did!  In this post, I will give you a few tips on how all of that can be done and in no time flat, you will be spending your Saturday afternoon creating clay projects you never thought possible. You already took the first step by thinking about it and now the next step would be getting a ball of clay to start with. You will not be able to use these low fire pots for food items, but we can make little planters and other projects.  So first, let’s find a little ball of clay.




The Beginning: Find Some Clay.

“Help! But what type of clay should I use?” I am glad you asked! Since we will be going caveman style, we will use types of clay that you can “bake” at low temperatures. And like Robinson Crusoe, we will start with earthenware. Earthenware is a bit more delicate than stoneware, but it is good enough to start with and practice with. A person starting out can also use raku clay. Raku clay is clay that is intentionally mixed so it can handle “thermal shock” or extreme changes in temperatures of hot and cold without cracking or blowing up. Raku clay also “bakes” at low temperatures. You might also find clay near riverbanks or in the ground. Wild clay needs a bit of testing first and for this project, we will only be using clay that we know will work out. Earthenware clay can be bought at local craft stores or your local pottery supply store. Raku clay also can be bought online or at clay supply stores but is a bit harder to find. So, once you have your box of clay, you now are ready to do the next step. Open the box or bag and scoop out a 1-pound ball of clay.



Step Two: Make a Little Ball.

Congratulations! I am super proud of you! You just went from thinking about making something in clay to doing it! Amazing! Now you need to decide what to make. There are millions of things you can make, but no need to worry about them all and get distracted and overwhelmed. I think for your first project you should make a little pinch pot planter for your aunt Joan. You could put a succulent in it and give it as a gift. She will love it! Now compress the clay into a tight ball. If the clay cracks or is a bit dry, you can put a tiny amount of water on it and knead it in until it is soft and workable. In my opinion, it should be just a bit stiffer than bread dough. Compress and slap the clay to get all the air pockets out and form the little lump of clay into a ball. Now give yourself a thumbs up! You did it!

 



Step Three: Make a Pinch Pot.

Take your thumb that you gave thumbs up with and push it into the center of the clay ball. You only want to push your thumb about ¾ of the way in and not all the way though. The idea is to scoop out the clay gently while rotating the ball. Work the lump of clay by using your thumb to even out the sides. Be sure you get the bottom even also; if there are thick parts, it may take a longer time to dry. It also might not dry evenly. In my opinion, you should take care not to get the top too wide but just wide enough to put in a cute little plant. Now once both the sides and bottom are even, set the pot aside and have a look! You did great! If the pot has cracks, you can take a tiny bit of water and smooth out the rim and edges. Below is a nice video on how to make up your pinch pot.

 




Step Four: Make Three More.

Make three more little cute pots because pottery is about learning through messing up. One of your pinch pots might crack drying, another might crack when you accidentally drop it or when it is fired. But no worries! Making more pots means that you get practice at making pinch pots and by the time you form ten pots, you will be far better at it than what you made at pot one! Now line all the little pots up and have a look at them. They are the very first pots you have made, and you should be proud of them as no matter how good or terrible you think they look, you have met the goal of simply making a pot and you are much further ahead of folks who simply thought about making a clay pot and never did! I’m so proud of you! But these pots are a real snooze fest and in-order to keep awake for the rest of the project and to make the pots look a bit more interesting, we need to do a bit of decorating.

 

 

Step Five: Decorate Your Pots.

Now just like there are a million ways to make a pot, there are a million ways to decorate one. So, for this project, we will simply make impressions in the little clay pots. You can use plants, stones, tree bark, and many other found objects to make texture patterns and impressions. When making impressions, be sure to hold the pot on the inside and not press too hard as you do not want to deform the pot. Press in things as much or as little as you like and when you are all done, line them up and look at the cute little designs you have made on them. Your Aunt Joan will love them! Now we move on to the next step as we need to let them dry.

 




Step Six: Dry Your Pots.


Drying pots is easy because it does not require you to do much of anything. If the walls and base of the pots are even, things should dry out in a few days. As they dry, they will get more delicate, so handle them like eggs. The stages of drying are what pottery folks call leather hard and bone dry.  “Leather hard” is when the clay is not fully dry but is quite hard. At this point, folks trim pots and also carve. At the “bone dry” stage, there is very little moisture left in the clay and the pot is completely dry. In most clays you will notice a color change. Dry the little pots in an area that has good circulation. You could put them in the sun, but for this beginner project, we want them to dry a bit slower so they do not dry too fast and crack. If possible, you could carefully turn the little pots upside down and let them fully dry. If the edges are delicate, leave them right side up, but rotate them a bit every few hours. If you forget, it’s fine, but be sure your pot is not stuck to anything as it shrinks when it dries, and you do not want cracks. Your pots will be dry when they are bone dry. An easy way to tell if your pot is dry is to carefully pick them up and touch them on your cheek. If they still feel cold, they may need to dry a bit more. Rotate them around and expose them to air. When your pots are completely dry, they are now ready to fire!




Step Seven: Get Ready to fire!

Now this takes a bit of research, but don’t be scared! Just like there are a million ways to make and decorate a pot, there are a million ways to fire a pot. If you are just a kid getting into art, you will need an adult to help you with this part as fire is very dangerous and can cause a lot of damage. So, for the love of all that is holy, check with your local authorities about what you are permitted to do and not do. Be sure to follow all laws and safety standards around fire safety. Be sure to fire in a safe place where it is not windy. Plan a way to put out the fire if things go bad. I do not want to see anyone in the news. So, after learning about fire safety and the laws and regulations, we can get ready to fire. For this example, we are going to pit fire. Get a shovel and meet me back here so we can get to it.



Step Eight: Dig a Hole.


Scrape the area 3-foot around your pit so small leaves and sticks do not catch fire from your pit. Use the shovel or some tool to dig a hole. You want the hole to be as deep as your elbow and wide enough on the edges to place all your pots in with a bit of space around each one. The idea is to have a dry hole, dry burnables, dry wood, and dry pots. Place some burnables in the hole and do some burning to dry the hole out some. You can use sawdust. You can get bags of sawdust at the hardware store or at pet supply shops. One bag should be good enough. Place the pots on the edge of your little hole and rotate them to start to slowly heat them up. Use gloves to place in your pots. Place larger pieces of wood on top like you are going to have a campfire. In the video below, this lady fires pots like Robinson Crusoe did. At 19:30 in the video below, she warms them up and places the pots in the fire!

 


Can I Make Pottery in my fire pit?  You Bet!

 



Step Nine: Light the Fire.

Carefully move all burnables like left over saw dust, leaves, and dry wood from the area and place them where they will not catch fire. Carefully light the fire like you are at camp. Add on more wood slowly and let the fire burn all the way down into the pots and in the hole. Never leave a fire unattended! Let the fire burn out. When the pots are cool enough, pull them out with a pair of gloves. When you tap the pot carefully, you should hear a ring that will tell you if your pot at least has reached a temperature to harden it enough.



 

Step Ten: Clean the Pot.

When the pots are cool enough to hold with your hand, clean the pots up with water and a Brillo pad, wiping off all the ash and dirt that might be on it. Congratulations! You just made your first pots without a kiln. Now go buy some succulents and put them in your pots and give them to your aunt Joan as a gift! She will love them! I recive no payments or kickbacks from posting this material. I write these articals because I enjoy helping folks just like you at no cost. If you enjoyed this post and got somthing out of it feel free to check out my gallery and shop or just say hello at creekroadpottery@gmail.com.



 

Written By,
Al Wayman
Artist/Owner
Creek Road Pottery LLC

Edited by:
Erika Sickler
Content Writer/ Editor
Creek Road Pottery LLC

If you enjoyed this post and are a lover of pottery, sign up for our newsletter and become a raging fan.




 

 

“And one day they taught Hesiod glorious song while he was shepherding his lambs under holy Helicon, and this word first the goddesses said to me – the Muses of Olympus, daughters of Zeus who holds the aegis: “Shepherds of the wilderness, wretched things of shame, mere bellies, we know how to speak many false things as though they were true; but we know, when we will, to utter true things.”      – Theogony by Hesiod, English translation by Evelyn White

 

Many people may ask me where I get my inspiration. Artist or not, we all get inspired to do something, something that drives us into action. Many say, “Follow your passion!” In my observation, passions can change after you have pursued them for a while. “Follow your passion!” also assumes it is something of good. If your passion was stealing cars it could cause you a bad time. Something more than passion needs to drive a person as at times I do not feel all that passionate about clay when pots crack.  A video I thought was helpful on the topic of following your passion can be found here. You may realize, after all the effort, you don’t enjoy it as much as you thought you would when you first started. But to start, folks believe they might need to be inspired or moved to action by some “trigger”. Here are a few things that “trigger” me. 

 

 

Reading & Research

 

When I was younger, I loved to read and had a small library of books that I enjoyed. I read many of The Hardy Boys books and Little House on the Prairie. I was terrible at reading and spelling until the 5th grade, when I had to do a book report. The experience was so moving that I still remember which book it was. The Hardy Boys: The Secret of Pirate’s Hill. I earned an A. I realized learning could be fun and took off reading like there was no tomorrow. While reading in my free time, I learned English grammar and spelling. My grades improved the more I read, and by high school, I was doing much better.

When I attended Keystone College in my home state of Pennsylvania for art, I met a guy who had piles of books all around him in the snack bar. His name was Richard. He was surrounded by books as he was studying ancient near eastern literature. Loving literature myself, we connected immediately. When we became friends, I went to Office Max with him to photocopy parts of books (as this was before the internet and the texts he was using would cost hundreds to own). It was at this point also that I was introduced to world religion by the librarian named Dr. Elliott. Dr. Elliot taught a world religion class and gave students permission to sit in and listen. She went over the ideas of Joseph Campbell and a bit of the psychologist Carl Jung. This led me to read the book The Power of the Myth by Joseph Campbell.  Between my buddy Richard and Dr. Elliot, I learned how important reading and research was to learning and applying it to my work.

 

 

Nature

 

I also get prompted to action by nature and love color and natural texture patterns. Before I made pots, I loved to go winter camping and hiking. I used to do all of this with my buddy Stephen. I even had a fun channel about my adventures outside. You may view those terrible old-time videos here. Taking the long hikes, up to 3 days or more, gave one plenty of time to spend with oneself and work things out surrounded by color and texture. Sitting in a field of grass with a good friend, making meals on a small cook burner as the sun set made an impression on my mind. The community of camping with friends made its mark as well. In times past, each Memorial Day and Labor Day we would camp with our college friends and loved ones and have grill fests. We would all bring our favorite dishes to show off and share. At night, sitting up late around the fire chatting and joking impressed upon me the community feeling that all was right in the world at that moment where we were. 

Nature shows up in my work in the texture patterns. I often use natural patterns in my pots, mostly the texture patterns of tree bark and things pressed into the clay like stones, plants, and other natural found objects. In the past, I use to layer these patterns, creating line and shape contrasted with color and glaze. I enjoyed using and feeling the raw, unglazed sections of the pots, and tried to leave parts unglazed to show off the clay’s natural beauty. Firing reduction in gas changes the glaze colors to the earth tones that I grew to love and enjoy.

 

 

 

Themes of Color

 

I am inspired by themes of color. I am not sure how it all works. Maybe I get it from my mom who always needed a matching outfit for every occasion. I always told her if she were to live a second time, she should be a fashion critic. Even at 86 years young, she still calls and asks what glaze colors I am running for the shows so she can dress accordingly when she helps as a greeter. Last year for the fall show, I ran all the colors from a single pail of glaze.

Depending on the shelf it was fired on, how hot the pots got, and what the atmosphere was like in the kiln, I was able to produce a wide range of work all from the same glaze that matched the color of the October seasonal fall look. Another show I was inspired by was the 2020 Christmas show called Blue Christmas. All the pots for this also were done from one pail of glaze. I was relieved when the blues came out beautifully to meet the expectations of those who stopped by to see.

The set-up for that show matched somewhat how I imagined it. I also think about these when working out collections for the shows. I try to get customer feedback and pair that with some ideas of work that can match in color or theme. I very much enjoyed the rolled rim mixing bowls and flattened rimmed handles on the batter bowls and bakers.

 



 

 

 

Be Like a Sponge

 

Inspiration can come in many forms, and many times we may not know from where. The ancients tell us about the muses, gods, or God. I try to expose myself to many things, absorb as much as I can and let it come out of my hands and into my creations. Not all of it ends up being well received, and I may spend far too much time working hard on the wrong things. But those times when inspiration hits your total concentration can be a fair and foul thing when you are driven to create, do the work, and get it to the right people as a gift. What I do know is I would make the pots even if no one else cared or bought them. I would still pile my ideas high to see where it would go or where it might end up. Mug one is far different to mug 120! So, what inspires you? What drives you to action? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Written By,
Alford Wayman
Artist/Owner
Creek Road Pottery LLC

Edited by:
Erika Sickler
Content Writer/ Editor
Creek Road Pottery LLC

If you enjoyed this post and are a lover of pottery, sign up for our newsletter and become a raging fan.

 

The Struggle

I always have a real bad time knowing when to do what and many times I feel as if I specialize in procrastination rather than doing what I do best. But what can be seen by others or ourselves as procrastination or being lazy might simply be due to a poor work-life balance. I remember last year in 2020 during the pandemic, I shut the pottery down for a week to read the book “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl. I loved the book and what he stated still has stuck with me. Frankl in his book said:

“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it” -Victor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Take Time For Yourself

Taking time off to do nothing or to be with family is just as important to creating as creating its self. Even though I had a lot of orders to complete and kiln loads to fire I still took time to go to the family reunion and visit with all the family I have not seen for years. I sat and ate potato salad with Uncle Wayne and Aunt Ruth and chatted with cousin Sean at the grill. Gave hugs to Aunt Gladys bent with age but still smiling and got to meet all the children of those who were children themselves last time I have seen them. You have no idea how fast time passes until you attend a reunion and see loved ones you have not seen in years. Then my friend Richard stopped by.

It was Richard’s birthday. I had planned to make pots all day, but Richard was on his way to Texas to take a class. My friend is huge into all types of research and I always enjoy spending time. So we took the day having lunch at the Diner and watching interesting films he has been collecting for his newest project. Richard is the one who got me into many topics of study and in his home shelves line all the walls but the kitchen three books deep. Over the last 25 years he has loaned me book and even helped me with clay projects. All of this was a nice break to have. But I need to get back to work as customers are looking for work. So I need to do the work and I need to learn to enjoy the hard parts and learning how to suffer the right way.

“But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?”

Having a good “why” is helpful to stay on track and having patience to persevere over the long run can make the work more about the journey rather than the destination. If you have a mission after resting, the hard work still needs to be done. I always work to get back into the mud, sometimes kicking and screaming. If do not participate in telling my story to the world, others will write it for me, or I will end up following or living the story of someone else.

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?” – Hillel the Elder, Mishnah Avot 1:14

Work-life balance helps us focus on what is truly meaningful and it then comes out our hands as we make the work and do the tasks that becomes a product that others enjoy. So I might take a long time getting custom orders out, or maybe a bit slow at finishing a few projects, but over all I try and ask like Frankl asked “If I was living today a second time what would I do”