This Mortal Clay…

My ceramics class has been goin’ pretty well. Throwing on the wheel is not like riding a bicycle, unfortunately, so I am not at all up to my college days, but part of that is that after three years of manhandling clay, I had some serious forearm power in those long ago halcyon days, and could center a great deal more clay. So my lumpy bowls are smaller. They are, however, starting to regain the same shape as before, and Tuesday I carved one in my classic square-on-circle pattern of my youth, and was well pleased.

If I can keep it up, even just going in once a week at open studio, (hopefully twice a week, if I can find another good time to do it) I hope to eventually get up to some good sized jumbo bowls, which I was never really able to do. Unfortunately, I will eventually wind up with more bowls than I know what to do with via this method, but it’ll make Christmas shopping easier. Glazing is tricky, though–they use almost exclusively brush-ons at this place, where I got used to dips–and I managed to ruin three bowls by layering things that did not wish to layer, and getting a truly horrific glaze effect. I will reglaze and refire and perhaps that will help.

The other side-effect of this is that, like the days of old, I am covered in clay. My jeans get clay splatters, (often over the top of the paint.) My boots are clay splotched. My jacket has clay dust in it. James came home the other day and said “Could we try and cut down on the clay on the steering wheel?” Fair enough. I do not mind the clay, because it will wash out easily enough, and I have passed whatever invisible threshold of age or eccentricity that allows you to wear any old longsleeve shirt over any old T-shirt over jeans that have been at the wheel and go out for coffee or books and not worry about whether people are staring at you in stunned horror. Food stains are bad, art stains are badges of honor.

Too, I know the great secret of retail, which is that unless you are naked and painted green, or otherwise REALLY distinctive–I mean, “cross-dressing Ben Franklin with a walker*” kind of distinctive, mere dyed hair and body piercings do not register–the clerks do not see you. They may talk to you, they may smile, they will ring up your purchase, but they do not retain an iota of memory of you as soon as you turn away. They do not care. The only things that are real when you are working retail are your coworkers and the clock. So I do not much worry about wandering around looking like I’ve weathered an explosion in an art supply store. Possibly some day I will pass another threshold that requires I have a certain gravitas in my dealings with the Rest of the World, but god willing, it’s a long way off.

*Yes. He did used to come in the Walgreens in my ancient days of working retail, and buy lipstick. You think I make this stuff up? And arguably, I probably wouldn’t have noticed him either, but people with walkers in the line give you plenty of time to stop and observe details.

Leave a Reply