I finally got back into the studio. Let me tell you it wan't what I thought it would be. I imagined that I would be a well oiled machine; throwing in a rhythm with the clay only potters can hear. Instead, I was only able to throw one piece per session.Between cleaning on Monday, meetings on Thursday, I threw Tuesday and Wednesday which means only two pieces made last week. Sigh...I've learnt some important lessons since embarking on this clay journey. The most important one is to listen to my body. Potters, artists are individuals that can sometimes have no scheduled time to work. We don't do nine to five. We can be found in the studio 4:00 am or at 4:00 pm. Depending on the demands we are notorious for pulling all nighters or working through lunch or dinner or both.
Because of the rigour needed to work with clay it's easy to stress our bodies to past breaking. This has been the case with me. I am paying for it now with the fingers of my left hand experiencing the pain of a trigger finger (stenosing tenosynovitis) While it's not severe enough to warrant the 'S' word (surgery) I have to be very aware of how much pressure I exert so as not to stress the already stressed.
It's crucial for us to take care of our bodies; to do what I call the "Stop, Look and Listen for Potters"
Necessity has made me go back and re read some chapters in Ben Carter's book Mastering the Potter's Wheel
I especially looked at the chapter on health and safety and that's our clay talk for today. Taking precautions with our time in the studio. Carter reminds us of one important rule: "pay now or pay later"
Clay studios/spaces should be places that are free from dust, which can pose breathing hazzard; mopping and not sweeping being the rule of thumb
Care should be taken with posture to preserve the integrity of the lower and upper back. One change I've made in this area was to place my wheel on blocks so that I can stand or if I'm sitting on my stool, my back is straight therefore my spine is straight.
Stretching is important. Carter highlights some simple but effective exercises that will help alleviate any strain to the back while assisting in strengthening the core. This is a book worth owning for all potters and would be potters alike.
Todays inspiration comes from none other than **William Shakespeare's Othello and what a quote it is! Iago hit the nail on the head here. Something to ponder as we sail along this week: how are we tending our gardens? Will we get a pass or a failing grade as gardeners?
I think I need to up my game. what about you?
** Othello William Shakespeare. Act 1 Sc 3
All this talk about self-care brings me back to why I enjoy making tea bowls.
The very act of holding with both hands and caressing the bowl while you sip forces a slowing down; a pause in the rushing and leads to a meditative, contemplative state of being. We all need to come apart every now and then. We all need to stop the rushing and walk. Why not do so with one of these bowls?
Until next week, Here's to a week of awareness and body/self-love. Remember to stop, look and listen.
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Hi I am an artist and potter here in Trinidad and Tobago, in the Caribbean. This is my blog and I hope you come along with me as I share pieces of my pottery world with you.