Tuesday, March 28, 2023

A Friend in Need


A couple of times over the last 16 years I have asked readers for help. I hate to do it, because I know you are mostly potters & so probably not the wealthiest! This time a friend is in desperate need, & we are running out of solutions. I know that many of you will not be in a position to help, but if you can, you will be doing a great kindness and it's deeply appreciated. If it's not feasible to give money, maybe you could share the fundraiser to your social media? 

I have known my friend Jon for nearly 40 years. In that time we have helped each other through hard times and crises. In every tough time, he has been there for me, despite having troubles of his own. That's how he is with all his friends - the one we all lean on. Jon has worked all his life but, like so many people, has never had a good enough job that he could get ahead. He was laid off in the fall and shortly after was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. 

Recently he suffered a medical emergency: a cut got badly infected and required emergency surgery. More surgery will likely be needed to remove dead tissue & repair the wound with a skin graft. Jon will be too unwell to work for the foreseeable future. 

He has applied for disability, but that decision can take many months, & he only has a few weeks of unemployment left. I feel certain he will qualify - we just need to keep a roof over his head until it comes through. So I started this fundraiser

As I said above, I really, really hate asking, because I know you all have demands on your money, families to care for, retirement to think about. (That's a big one, for the self-employed. No 401ks for us!) But if you have any room in the budget, or maybe you hit a lucky scratch ticket this week, any help you can give would be deeply appreciated. And I hope you have in your life a friend as good as Jon. 


Monday, March 20, 2023

Cracks Happen

 Last week I finished a couple of large platters - white stoneware with sliptrailed rims. I was super excited about them, in part because I haven't been making platters for quite a while. 

Yesterday I was reminded why I rarely make platters - the breakage & loss rate is much higher than other things I make, so the hours of work are often wasted. Both of my largest platters cracked right down the middle! Although to be fair, it was my own fault - these cracks are obviously shrinkage cracks & could have been avoided with slow drying, & placing the platter on newspaper. 

I posted the cracked image on facebook, because stuff like this, it's all part of the process. For me the point of social media is to let people get a real glimpse, not just to show the successes. Several good hearted people suggested ways to "salvage" the piece - kintsugi, or so alternative use. While I understand the impulse not to let the work be wasted, part of being a potter is learning when to let go. There are both philosophical & practical reasons to do this. From a practical standpoint, the most expensive resource that goes into making is not labor, & it's certainly not clay: it's propane, for the firing. Firing something that I already know is cracked would be tremendously wasteful of kiln space! Philosophically, I think a lot of people fundamentally misunderstand kintsugi. We think of it just as  a pretty technique - which it is! - but the idea behind it is acceptance of transience and change. It is honoring the history of a beloved object while accepting that it, like everything else, will change over time. A piece that is not yet fired has no history. In this case, acceptance of transience means allowing it to return to clay, to become something else. 

Tl;dr: cracks happen! They suck, but we move on. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2023