I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t like getting their hands dirty for the day, get their inner Demi on, and learn how to use the pottery wheel. Then again, I do choose my friends wisely.
Maybe it was the movie Ghost or some other inspiration, but I have always wanted to try my hands at the pottery wheel. The wheel and clay combination looks therapeutic in its constant motion and constant change. I watched our instructor’s ease with the clay and imagined a day that would be me. I could get used to finding the precise point where your piece is centred. Isn’t that a lovely thought for our days too? Sit down to find the sweet spot where everything is focused, going according to plan, and becoming something beautiful.
Not every day can be that way. The monotony of the wheel would get me spinning out of control at some point, and it would fling off to belt me in the eye like a poop thrown at me from the ape cage. My takeaway is that we need to stop the wheel from spinning on occasion and bash the crap out of something before the shit lands in our eye. I listened to my inner voice and went to make a platter first.
The bashing of the clay to make a tray was the wrench in the day. I lost patience sometime between the whacking and the adorning or maybe even before that. I couldn’t be bothered to make it pretty. I am a Libra for crying out loud, my world should be about balance and symmetry, and I dabbed that stencil willy-nilly on the clay form entirely out of character. Once I handed over the piece, they fired it and, painted it the colour glaze I requested. There was no going back to make it perfect.
I saw the point of the platter, it will be useful, I had paid for the lesson, yet it didn’t have value to me after a point of diminishing returns. I made the shape and making it pretty was not something I was interested in, but everyone was stencilling, so I felt I had to. In conforming to the group, the less-than-perfect stencil might have been my modest rebellion.
Platter in the done pile, I sat at the wheel. I felt, and this is going to be corny, at one with the clay. I knew my piece was going to be unique because the combination of the wheel and my hands will make this piece mine without having to try too hard and making it stand out. I also didn’t feel judged on the final product as I did with the tray. Could it be that I made the piece less than perfect to avoid judgement? Interesting.
The spinning was intoxicating, but the feel in my hands of the control was even better. It required more work to stay at centre than I expected but once you got past the hard part, the beauty came easy. An analogy for life has never been more accurate. Finding centre through the tough stuff means there is beauty on the other side if you can control yourself through the dizziness.
There were a lot of lessons in the little shop of clay masterpieces, and they didn’t glaze over until I picked up my final work. My bowl is perfectly symmetrical and easy to be proud of because it is beautiful. My platter, with all its imperfections, is perfect though. It isn’t gallery worthy, but it makes me more satisfied than I expected because it is me. It is slightly off centre, randomly dressed, and maybe even comical. I like to think those are my best qualities.
My Turning 50 Like a Boss Tip: Be you with all your imperfections. No one that matters will judge you for that.
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