It’s 6:30 am Sunday morning, 6 days before our annual Christmas open house and sale. Here I sit, mega mug of coffee in hand. This is the big one for us. It’s the one where our people come to our home and buy from us because they know us and want to catch up with us. We love our people. Many times we’ve met new friends or got a visit from an unexpected old friend.
The one thing that lies under the surface of this day is the bone aching mind numbing exhaustion of getting to this day. It starts in September for me.
The triple duty of harvesting the garden, intense beekeeping and making product.
I love what I do! Every crazy little bit of it. I love that I work from home. I love that I can walk to my studio in my P.J.’s to check on the progress of some drying pots. I love that in the summer I can pick a salad on my way into the house. I swing the door of the studio open and watch the sun set. I listen to loud music and dance in studio at 1am because I’m still trying to get that last push done. Sounds pretty romantic doesn’t it?
Let’s visit the other side. The dark side. A day in November with shows looming and the temperature is -20 with a wind chill. The alarm goes off at 5am, get up and check the kiln. Find a coat and boots and don’t forgot your glasses. Stumble out the the garage where the kilns are, by the time you get there you are awake and cold. No heat in the garage so the kiln is taking time, it’s the third time you’ve been up. Everything is humming along. Get back to the house, wide awake now. May as well go to work. Make coffee, do a quick email/social media check, glance at your yoga mat and walk out the door. The studio is cold. You make a mental note that the door needs new weather stripping. No time to deal with that, so you hang an blanket over the door till one of you can get to it.
It’s dark out, the lights of the studio seem a glaring contrast. Wedge some clay to warm up. Even the clay feels cold. Check the work board for the day, 40 mugs, 6 casseroles and 20 honey pots. Sigh. The clay is wedged for the throwing that needs to be done.
Time to unload the other kiln that fired the day before. So you bundle up, add a hat this time. The garage is warmer now from the heat of the kiln. Smile. Open the load. Bisque. Unload the kiln. Put all the pots on boards to be carried back to studio to be glazed. The sidewalk is snow covered. Stop carrying pots and shovel the snow. All pots in the studio. Time to wipe them down. All the bottoms need wax to keep them from sticking to the kiln shelves during the glazing.
Pull out the buckets of glaze that you had made by measuring and weighing all the ingredients and test firing a sample to make sure it’s right. All the insides of the bowls get liner glaze, that is dipped first.
While they dry, you move into throwing mode in the next room. Throw 40 mugs. Liner glaze dry now. Checked the firing kiln 3 more times waiting for it to be the right temperature. You are checking a lot because the kiln has been acting up lately. It’s 23 years old and you’re praying it will limp through one more season.
It’s now 3 pm, hungry and needing a stretch you go into the house, put a pot of soup on, throw down that yoga mat you ignored in the morning. Fall asleep on the mat, wake up to the smell of burning soup. Eat it anyway. Dogs need a walk. It’s now 4:30. Put some weird concoction in the oven for supper, set your phone alarm so you don’t burn that also. Back to work. The second kiln had shut off just before the walk, but the whole time you’re walking you are analyzing the kiln firing and have a lump in your stomach that it wasn’t right.
Back in the studio you tackle the honey pots. Done. Throw a few extra lids just in case. Wash your hands, change your apron and glaze the pots you started earlier in the day. Dinner, mushy , because you ignored your alarm and left it too long. Eat it anyway. Drink a cup of tea. Talk to your man who has just returned home after a day of work, outside. He’s cold and tired, and picking up the slack on the home front.
Back to work, decision time, shall I clean up the glazed pots and haul them back to the garage or finish the 6 casseroles. Too cold outside, I sit at my wheel. My back has different plans. Too much work today it tells me. I cover the clay up and clean the studio and run some reclaim clay through the pug mill. On the way out the door for the night I look at the glazed pots waiting to be cleaned up and think, I wonder if my back will notice.
Now that you’ve made it to the end if this epic tale, I hope you will join us Saturday Dec 2nd from 10-3 pm. 320-1st Ave N.W. Black Diamond.
There’s lots going on in the Diamond Valley that day. Galleries, unique shops, locally owned eateries.and other studio sales.
All the best to you and yours.
4 thoughts on “A day in the life of a potter.”
The life of an Artist. The anguish at errors, the glee of happy accidents, the long, long hours with yourself and your decisions. The challenge of self care and the care of your loved ones…. blessed are the loved ones who keep us sane and propped up. These are our daily movements with our Creations and the Studios that support our unbidden desires. There appears to be nothing like it. Art making is love.
Say it sister!
Can’t make it to Black Diamond – is your pottery available anywhere in Calgary ? I love the honey pot featured on this post & would like to
Buy one & other items for Christmas gifts.
Sent from my iPhone
Thia, my work is available at Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond. They have a great selection of honey pots. They will ship also.