Day 75: Transformation

The ceramics pieces are out of the kiln.  One of them, a cone-shaped whimsical piece, is now a shiny, yellow-ochre color.  Another, a spherical little orb, now glows red-hot, like a coal pulled straight from a fire.

The magic of ceramics is the magic of transformation.  Mud from the ground, pigments, and a handful of products engineered by chemists come together to make sculptures and pottery.

I’m entranced by it all, but I’m also weary. In the last day or so I caught a virus, so in between applying layers of glazes to my pots, I’m also wiping my nose and gulping down mug-fulls of tea.  I’m also a it weary of being a beginner.  Beginners can see many possibilities, but our efforts rarely turn out exactly as we’d hoped they would when we first began.

I’m going to bed and hoping that a new day brings new perspective.

Today’s thank you goes to my mom, who baked me cookies.

-Josie

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Day 74: Half Baked

A significant portion of the ceramic pieces I have made so far are either in the kiln being fired for the first time or in the kiln being fired for the second time.  The first firing is the bisque firing, which makes the clay hard.  The second is for the glazes.  My understanding is that there are all kinds of further variations on this way of doing things (for example, putting some underglazes on for the first firing), but that is a simple way to understand the process.

Because my ceramic pieces are hidden inside the kilns baking, I have to wait.  I have to wait to see how the colors in the glazes change, whether or not the pieces will break, and whether or not I will actually like the final product.  The nice thing, though, is that I’m not that invested in the result.  One of the things I have learned during this 100-day project is the importance of focusing on the process, not the outcome.  I don’t actually have control over outcomes, but I do have control over processes.  And, by doing my very best with the process, I can often increase the odds of a position outcome.

This rule applies to the task of packing for my move to New Hampshire as well.  I can’t predict how things will work out.  Will the moving truck arrive on time?  Will anything get lost?  Will the overall cost be higher than I can expect?  What I can control is the process of carefully packing boxes, the care I take in comparing different moving companies, and the degree to which I document everything.

I can also practice self-care.  Just because I’m busy doesn’t mean there is some law forbidding me to drink enough water and breathe deeply every now and then.

-Josie

P.S.  Edited to add that I said thank you to someone who sent me a link to something cool on the internet. I know that’s not a profound thank you, but it still counts.

 

Day 73: Fireflies

I put in my longest day yet in the ceramics studio today.  I was still mopping clay dust off the floor at ten o’clock.  When I stepped outdoors into the dark, I realized the air was thick with fireflies.  It was a beautiful and magical end to a busy and productive day.

Today’s thank you went to someone who brought me a cup full of fruit and whipped cream midway through my busy day.  Now that is something to say “thank you” for!

-Josie

Day 72: Brunch

The ceramics madness (and bliss?) continues.  The only real interruption to my ceramics work today was brunch.  I noshed on pancakes, sausage, eggs, salad, and fruit before heading back to the studio, a bit sluggish from all the rich food, but not so much that I wasn’t excited to work.  I am learning to mix up my own underglazes with pigments made from materials like cobalt and copper.  These dry pigments are toxic when inhaled, so I wear a mask when mixing them up.

I haven’t fired any of the glazes yet, so it will be something of a surprise to see how they look.  That, I’m realizing, is one of the reasons people like ceramics.  They like the surprise of never really knowing exactly what something will look like until it is done.

I’m such a beginner that I really don’t know what things will look like until they’re done.  I almost feel like a monkey at a typewriter, making lots of things and hoping to accidentally stumble upon something good.

Speaking of good things, my mom did me a massive favor the other day, so today’s thank you went to her.

-Josie

Day 71: Ars Longa, Vita Brevis

Today’s thank you went to a friend who gave me some valuable advice.

Today’s activities were: hand building with clay, mixing up ceramic glazes, and applying ceramic glazes.  Do you see a theme?  Yes, I was busy with ceramics all day.

And, with less than fifteen minutes before the end of the day, today’s blog post is going to be frighteningly short.

-Josie

P.S.  I know that “Art is Long, Life is Short” doesn’t mean “Every day is too short to make all the art you want to make.”  I am using the phrase incorrectly because I am too tired to think of an appropriate title.

 

Day 70: White Wine

Today’s thank you went to one of my ceramics teachers, who is going to teach me more about using the kiln.  We don’t actually have to learn how to use the kiln, but I’d like to know more about it so that I am equipped to use one later on by myself.

It being a Friday night, I’m not doing any homework for the ceramics course right now.  Actually, I’m not doing anything to prepare for the move to New Hampshire, either.  I will be hard at work again tomorrow morning, but, for now, it’s a glass of white wine and the couch.

-Josie

 

 

Day 69: Egg Boxes

I have fifteen egg boxes, and they are just as good as wanderlust809 said they would be.  The little divider in the middle is amazing, as are the handles and the overall structure.  The grocery store gave them to me for free.

It dawned on me today that of course eggs come in wonderful boxes.  They’re eggs.  Eggs are fragile.   What else would you ship eggs in, besides perfectly wonderful boxes that protect them from being jostled even a little bit?

I got my fifth moving company quote today, and I think I’ve finally found a place that doesn’t look sketchy and will do the move for a reasonable price.  Good news.

The ceramics courses continue to kick my butt.  I’m glad, because I want to learn, but it’s tiring to be planning the move and also taking classes.

Today the place I applied to on DAY 44 contacted me saying they are interested in me.  Of course, I’m committed to New Hampshire now, but it’s flattering that they are interested.  In particular, it is flattering because I totally thought that job was out of my league.  I even wrote in that post that I didn’t think I would hear back about my application.  What do I know?

Speaking of which, I also got an offer from the place in Connecticut.  I was so worried I wouldn’t get any offers, and now it feels like everyone is interested in me.

-Josie

 

Day 68: Grueling

That’s what today was.  Grueling.  I had no idea how intense this ceramics course would be.  And, I have no idea how I will continue doing all the homework for it while also planning the move to New Hampshire.  The moving estimate I received today was sky-high, really sort of absurd, actually.  I need to do more research into cheap moving options.

Today I said thank you to a former teacher.

-Josie

Day 67: Pot Throwing Marathon

Both of my ceramics courses met today.  Both!  I’m happily surprised that my hands are not sore from all the time I spent throwing pots on the wheel and hand building.  Hand building, it turns out, is much easier for me than using the wheel.  Really, though, I’m getting so much better at both skills.  It is fun to be a beginner at something and see how much I can improve, even in a short period of time.

I don’t know a lot about Zen Buddhism, but I’ve heard that one of the ideas in Zen Buddism is “beginner’s mind.”  Beginner’s mind is about the sense of openness that people have naturally when they are new to something.  I don’t often enjoy being a beginner, because I’m always chasing mastery, but I do think it is good to stop and enjoy the moment when you have fewer preconceived notions about what is possible.  That is certainly the case for me right now with ceramics.

In addition to all the ceramics, I have also been getting quotes from moving companies.  The quotes are so different!  I guess I’ll just go with the cheapest one, but I do wonder if sometimes you get what you pay for?  Maybe tonight I should read online reviews.

Today’s thank you goes to a former classmate who helped me out with something valuable.

-Josie

Day 66: Need New Boxes

I am really enjoying my ceramics classes.  As many of you know, I’m taking two classes concurrently.  One of them started yesterday, and it is intense.  The instructor and the other students are all wonderful, but the course itself is just really a lot of work.  I think I put in a total of nine hours today, and I didn’t finish my homework.  I’m not taking the course for credit, so there’s no shame in not doing everything that is assigned, but I still feel a little bad.

My main priority right now is preparing for my upcoming move.  With that in mind, I owe a huge THANK YOU to wanderlust809 for the tip about banana boxes.  Apparently it is really not a good idea to use these boxes, for all the reasons that should have been obvious to me immediately.  That hole in the bottom really is a problem, folks!  And you can’t hold the moving company responsible for any damages because they will blame it on the fact that you packed your stuff in bad boxes.  I am taking note of this, and I will find something else to pack my stuff in.

Fifteen days until moving day.

-Josie