Why I do what I do.
First a little history
49 years ago this September, I started taking my first pottery class at San Antonio College. In July of that summer, while on a trip, I saw a potter working in his studio in Indianapolis and I was very intrigued, so much so, that I decided that I would take a class when I returned home. The pottery classes, at that time, were held in an older home on the outskirts of the SAC campus that was near downtown. Since I was working during the day, I took evening classes, but I worked outside so I got off work when it rained. That Fall, it rained a lot so I spent a great deal of time in the pottery studio which was open for use anytime there was not a class in session.
It would be safe to say that the potters’ wheel mesmerized me. Immediately, I was in love. I loved the feel of the clay moving through my hands as the wheel turned and I was engrossed with the struggle to control what was happening with the clay as the wheel turned. Often the shapes that were supposed to be tall and elegant were low and flat. I loved that clay was impressionable. Anywhere you touched it left an impression with the sense that your personality, your very being, was impressed into the clay. Some clay is so fine you can see your fingerprints imprint on the surface of the clay. The quickness of the process, the speed of forming a piece on a wheel intrigued me.
Soon, I realized that I had some aptitude for working on the wheel. Fairly quickly, I decided that I wanted to try and make a living at being a potter. Nearly 50 years later in a rapidly changing market place, I am still trying.
It was a slow process moving from that first class to being a full-time potter or at least it seemed slow. I didn’t have a clue about how to get from the point of taking classes to going into business. There were no books on how to do that and I don’t think that there are any now. A degree in ceramics from an accredited university didn’t give you any of the business skills that you might need to be self-employed. In fact, from my perspective, they often stunt the ability of the potter to make a living partially because the professors don’t know-how to themselves. Because they don’t know how to make a living at pottery, they often look down their nose at the idea of making a living from making pottery. So, I had to feel my way along. I figured it out as I went along and if a door opened I went through it, sometimes I was pushed through the door. Looking back, it all seems kind of crazy, perhaps because it often was.
Over the next few weeks, I am going to write about the process of learning to be a potter and the philosophy that I developed about making pottery. I will post some of that story each week as part of my newsletter. I will try and keep it short and hopefully interesting. Blessings, Rob