Word of the year
The word of the year this year for me is “Create”. I think I got distracted by everything, and sometimes I forgot to create. I was worried about deadlines, generating revenue to buy supplies, and planning out work for shows and the shop, but I sometimes forgot to take the time to actually create.
For sure, I made pots, but making and creating are two different things. Making can be simply throwing 100 mugs and bowls at a time to place out something to sell when folks show up. But creating to me is being mindful of the process and having each pot be a work of art and practice for the next, rather than just filling space with lazy handmade.
There is such a thing as making lazy pots. They talk about it some in the clay group I am a part of. Lazy pots mean making up a bunch of things to fill space. The same things folks do enjoy and you are comfortable making but still not pushing boundaries. Lazy pots can mean you are following a set process you created over time, and rather than change, you become content to keep things the same with centerline management.
The same raw materials, the exact amount the recipe calls for, are mixed the same way, applied the same way to each pot, and fired the same way in the kiln. Any variation is left up to human frailty and how the flame hit it in the kiln, but even still, I may not care for pots that come out with variations. Creating it is much different. Things might not be exact to the centerline, and chances are taken that may or may not work. At times the variations or “mistakes” can be amplified and exaggerated to actually be the focal part of the work. Also, time take is important.
For sure, I think about being efficient and know time is a thing I do not get back, but taking time for time to sit and create can be a hard thing to do as the time taken might be seen as being idle, but I see it as a time of creation as it’s a time of collecting. All the reading, thinking, watching, and listening come out in work later. I need to get better with time and deadlines, but I have found that in order to create work that matters, it may take the time it needs, and the people who care will understand that and find the results worthwhile.
Creating starts for me with the act of doing something. Life is far too short to wait for inspiration or a muse to spur me into action. Deadlines are a motivator for me for sure, and I do try to set them. Those not familiar with my making style may have a bad time understanding how things work out. To them, getting custom orders in a timely manner may seem like pulling teeth. On my end, I have to balance work/life activities as I still work full time and also need to visit friends and family. I can never say no to a visit or call from Mom or take a few hours having a coffee with a friend who stops by.
A few goals for this year will be to focus more on creating and doing new work and have everything that comes with it be a secondary task or a by-product. If I am able to create work that matters well enough to a few people who care, then things should work out fine. I should be able to fill my pottery shed with work and have enough for scheduled shows and shops. Another goal that is simply creating will help me with will be better timing of completed work. I think that the idea of “just in time” production may be influenced by my 26 years of working in manufacturing.
I need to remember that here at the pottery, I am not simply a replaceable cog following directions and maintaining centerlines of a known process that gets the same results 99% of the time. Here at the pottery, I am the creator of works and recipes. I have the privilege to try new things, mess up, practice, and learn. Schooling does not teach us to create but to be compliant, so we are all good workers and follow known processes.
Creators translate the unknown and the not existent into existence, from a sketch of a mug to the one you can drink out of. It is not all by chance or accident, but maybe it is about being in the right place at the right time and being receptive as a creator to translate the input you gather and have collected. And if you are truly creating, you will create things that matter, and a few folks who care may miss you if you were gone. Lyrics from a song, the wind on your face, or a conversation with a friend over a coffee can all be a part of creation.
The year brought about changes for the better for some in town as the universe kept moving and creating. For Missy, the waitress at the Wright Choice Diner, things went from really terrible to best in no time flat with just the swipe of her thumb. And with it, creation was created almost on its own.
Missy’s New Start
A round peanut M&M rolled across the wood floor and stopped in front of the wheel of Timmy’s grocery cart at Marty’s Market. Marty’s Market is the kind of place where they still have price stickers on everything, which gives you the ability to add items all up to be sure you didn’t overspend and maybe take a few things off if you need to. Timmy leaned forward on his cart and checked his receipt to be sure the sale price on the tomato sauce came off. He then looked at the wrinkled paper with his list written on it. It looked like he had everything to make up his pot of chili for the surprise going away party for Missy at Millie’s Bar.
Big Jimmy, owner, and cook at the Wright Choice Diner, wanted to do something really nice for Missy before she left. We all did. Timmy could make up a really mean Chile. He wanted to get it started early so it could cook down some. It always tasted better when it could cook down a bit in the crock pot. Timmy was holding up the line. He came to and pushed his cart forward; the front wheel skidded and stopped short.
A little girl behind with chocolate on her hands and mouth watched Timmy back up some and then kick the M&M out from in front of the wheel. Light snow was falling as Timmy pushed the cart out to his car. He rubbed his eye as one small flake landed on his lash. He looked up into the falling snow, and he thought the whole scene was quite beautiful. He had the feeling that everything would be right in the world. He whistled as he loaded the groceries into the car. This was going to be really good chili.
Just a year ago, Miss had her then-boyfriend trapped under the car for the day when she found him working and slowly lowered the jack down to his chest. We can’t say we blamed her as he was always mean, and it seemed Missy could never catch a break. Big Jimmy and others thought we might like to help and took up donations. There was a jar for Missy next to the tips for Darrel’s compliments. Every Wednesday at noon, Darrel would dump what he made into the jar for Miss.
Now the jar was not labeled in any way as we all knew Missy was real proud and would not take a dime. But somehow, big Jimmy found a way to sneak payments towards her accounting degree Missy was going for, in the middle of all her hardships of putting up with a jerk boyfriend and raising her kids. But all of that was in the past now. Miss put in the work and finished her accounting degree, and it was not long after her fate turned for the better. At least that’s what Sarah told us all at the party.
Missy was on her phone looking for a new man on tinder. What looked like a nice guy came up, But she was sick and tired of being sick and tired. She was done dating losers. She didn’t know why she was still on looking but instead of swiping left, she swiped right but then forgot.
Missy had been swiping right for a long time, but everyone she gave a chance to without getting caught ended up being very much like the problem she was with. A few days later, she got a message and set up an “Ohh, what the hell, why not” date. So far, it was the best choice she made.
He was some big Silicon Valley entrepreneur who had just sold his company and made out like a bandit. Things moved quite fast, and before anyone knew it, Miss was wearing nice clothes and looking for a house. The new guy even helped her find a nanny and paid for everything so she could start a remote accounting job.
”It seems he cares about her. They go on hikes together.” said Sarah sipping her beer.
”He left a big meeting he was in to come down when she got rear-ended at the red light. Made sure she got medical attention and worked things out with the police and insurance and everything.”
”Wow, that’s great, “ I say.
”Hope it all works out. She deserves it for sure.”
”She sure does. She still plans to work for big Jimmy. He needs a good accountant. He cooks his books like he cooks eggs, so Miss may edge him over to the more legal side. But you didn’t hear that from me. No one talks about big Jimmy’s bookkeeping.”
”For sure.” I say as I eat another bowl of chili.
Now a few ladies and Sarah had Missy blindfolded and sat her in a chair in the center of the room. They brought out wrapped gifts and set them around her. It seemed that what was supposed to be a going away party turned into a baby shower. They announced that Missy was expecting again, and we all clapped. Miss took her blindfold off and then saw all the gifts.
Tears welled up in her eyes as some of the ladies comforted her. It looked like she had never felt so loved. A beautiful handmade baby blanket with teddy bears all crocheted, made up by the good and kind Linda Jennings. Another gift was a handmade matching sweater, hat, and bottom made up by Gloria, the preacher’s wife, and things went on for quite some time. In the end, Miss held all her pride and thanked us kindly, wiping away tears. It was a big relief for the town that we all were able to help someone make it out alive and for the better.
Now, there may not have been a Missy or a Timmy. But there is for sure Marty’s Market with price tag stickers still on everything. Creation takes a bit of action, but once you start rather than wait, more often than not, good things can come about from the brave chances you take.
At times it might take a whole community to create, and other times, it can be as simple as a swipe of a thumb to have good rain down on you. Just live the day as if you were living a second time, and know a few folks out there care. I care. Drop me a line if you get the time. This is the story of my small town. So I will tell it how I like it.
Be sure to check out the book: The Creative Act: A Way of Being. by Rick Rubin
Creek Road Pottery L.L.C.
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