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Processing The Loss

Potters are often referred to as a “special kind of breed” among the artist community. I would certainly agree with this statement. Potters are different than other types of artists. We tend to be a little quirky, silly, and able to roll with things as they come. We look at our work differently and don’t take ourselves too seriously. Many artists have to concentrate on how their piece will look and be presented. Potters have to think about this, as well as how their piece will work. How will the piece function - will the spout pour nicely, how much will the cup hold, and so on. This makes potters part artists, as well as part engineers. Let’s not ever get into the chemistry of glazes and firing as it is enough to make your head spin! But I believe there is also another layer to pottery that other artists do not have to worry about, and that is- loss.

You can talk to any potter about lost posts. No, I do not mean ones that we cannot find, but pieces that have been destroyed in some part of the process. Sometimes a piece cracks while drying – after hours of work and attention to detail the piece simply cracks and it can feel like it is for no rhyme or reason. Other times the pot has something go wrong during the glaze fire, the last step in the process.

Loosing a piece during a firing can feel helpless and out of your control. You do every step, are careful, and catastrophe strikes anyway. It can be from the glaze not settling right after max temperature - leaving blisters all over the piece, to the glaze melting and running straight down the pot breaking the bottom, and everything in between. It is this loss that every potter faces that makes it an art form - that is not for the weak of heart.

You learn very quickly not to get too attached to a piece until it is completed. You learn to take the mindset of “I can make another one” or “If I did it once, I can do it again.” It is this mindset and grit that make potters a “special kind of breed.” I am proud to be among this group. Thankful for their support and the knowledge they share. As that is another quality about potters that separates us from the rest of the art community - we share. We share when things go perfectly; we share when they do not. We share tricks and tips that we have learned along the way. We know that no matter how long we have been practicing our craft that something unexpected could happen at any point. We share in these heart aches and in the triumphs. We share in the joy and in the pain.

I am sharing with you that during my latest firing I lost two watering cans. My beautiful, most time consuming, most cherished pieces that I make. This loss was certainly a blow to my ego and enough to have me feeling low all day. But I know that I will pick my spirits back up. I know I will examine what went wrong in an attempt to avoid it happening again. Most importantly, I know that I will make another one, because I am a potter and that is how we roll!

 

Lindsay Klix

Artist and Owner of Off Your Rocker Pottery

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