Monday, January 31, 2011

this week:

First, thank you for your comments and suggestions regarding my chronic  tendonitis.    I threw three days last week and didn't have any real problems- I even threw "big".  Soft, wet clay is easy for big forms, but harder to throw tiny forms- egg cups, bud vases, etc.  I'm looking for the happy medium.  I have acupuncture again on Friday, and I've found that the liniment my practitioner made for me really works well.   I can't tell you how very very happy I am that clay texture, different centering (that's hardest, really), and the acupuncture/liniment/massage (massage to get the liniment into the muscles) really seems to be working to solve my problems. 

This week I'm working on finishing up a dinnerware order for one of my regular MFM customers, finishing up a wholesale order, working on a project for a school, and preparing the den for our new woodstove.  I am finally going to finish painting the woodwork in the den, mostly because if I don't do it before the stove is installed, it won't ever get done.  So I'm taking an hour a day to finish sanding, priming, and painting the baseboards and windows.  We've been in our house for 5.5 years- I'm ready to finish those small nagging projects that bother me every time I look at them.

Pottery-wise, I think I'm returning to teacups.  Every few years I make a half dozen then stop making them altogether.  I made a few of these speckled ones last year and had a request from a potential customer that made me pull them out.  Three of them have been stacked up on my kitchen table this weekend, and I've given them a lot of thought.  I prefer drinking out of tumblers- I want to feel the warmth of the tea or coffee with both of my hands, but the form of teacups has always been visually appealing to me. I guess it's fitting that they keep returning as Josiah Wedgwood is one of my pottery heroes.   I made a set for a friend a few weeks ago- they're ready to be glazed.

OK.  Time to go get to work.  I hope your week is productive and warm.  Especially for my friends in the midwest and northeast- stay safe in the snow! 

Monday, January 24, 2011


Since the holidays, I've been experimenting with different ways to make pots.  Before the holidays, I worked too hard and steadily cranking out egg cups.  I overused my arms and the tendonitis flared back up.  I've had it in both arms for several years, but since December, I've been attacking the problem in some new ways. 
One: acupuncture.  Works wonders.  Fabulous.  Until I start really throwing again.
Two: wrist braces.  They're fine for centering (and sleeping), not fine for throwing.
Three: Chinese Herbal Tincture (related to acupuncture).  I spray it on and rub it in several times a day, and it seems to help.
Four: limiting my throwing time.  Like to an hour or two, tops, a day.  This part I hate.
Five: throwing with really wet clay.  I know a baker who used to be a potter until his wrists gave out.  He suggested a) stop making pots (imagine my very sad face here).  b) learn how to center differently. c) use really wet clay to throw with.  
Six: homeopathic/herbal anti-inflammatories and glucosamine.  They also seem to help.  My favorite is a combo of several herbs with ginger and tumeric (called something like inflam-action).  I need more of these soon.
Seven: stop doing other things that hurt the arms- laptop, knitting, carrying heavy things, pilates, etc etc.

The suggestion to stop is one I first considered when the pain got bad.  Stopping to rest, yes.  Stopping and find a new profession?  I'm not ready yet.  I go to acupuncture every other week and am diligent about taking my meds- herbal and otherwise- that help.  Today I threw for a little over an hour and a quarter and so far I'm ok.  I tried throwing with super-wet clay.  Some forms worked well.  Some forms were disasterous.  I am centering differently and have a carpel tunnel brace that I wear on my left arm (my "centering arm").  I think that I'll be making less work this year until I figure out how to work without injuring myself.  This is one reason I haven't been blogging much here- I didn't want to whine about pain, I didn't have new work to show, and I haven't been doing anything else terribly interesting.  But oh- the house is clean.  That I can do.

I'm grateful that I have options, grateful that some of the less-invasive treatments work, grateful that I can still work in the studio at all.  Not a terrible way to begin the week.
Have a good one, y'all.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Shortly before the holidays two different church organizations asked me to develop some liturgical items for them.  I finally sat down to make some drawings and stamps a week or so ago, after letting the ideas percolate in my brain for over a month.  This photo is of the green (unfired) stamps, drying on my radiator.  They've been fired, and I was happy with what I'd come up with.

Until, that is, I actually used them.  Yesterday I threw some Jefferson-type cups to impress with the round cross designs.  One of them worked.  Same with the anchor designs.  I'll fire and glaze all eight prototype pieces that I made, but it never ceases to amaze me how difficult it can be to get the image in my brain to come to life.  And how making something that falls so short can give me such a sinking feeling.  I ask too much of myself, perhaps?  I'm grateful that my work isn't always in R&D stages!   Regardless, I'm happy that at least two of these seven designs worked the way I wanted them to. 

Today I'm trimming pots that I made yesterday and the day before- including these liturgical Jefferson cups.  First, I'm going to run with my dog.

Have a wonderful day.

Monday, January 17, 2011


So, this is a year, alright.  Since the first week of January I feel like I've been on a roller coaster.  Sometimes good, sometimes bad.

The exposure from Southern Living has been incredible.  But I've learned a thing or two from it: about how to make/list/describe pottery, that I won't make everyone happy with my work, and how I should deal with that in the future.  It boils down to the fact that I'm responsible for me and what I put out, but nothing else.  And most importantly, that I can't let my feelings get hurt because I (or my imperfect ware) didn't meet someone else's expectations 100%.  That is a difficult thing for me to get past, but if I'm going to keep doing this, I just have to.   I want to make people happy, but it isn't up to me to ensure that they are overjoyed.

We had snow!  Last monday.  About 6 inches.  It was fun and incredible and there is still a 6 foot tall snowball on the green at Rhodes College, even though it made it up to the mid 40s again on Friday. 

On Friday I had acupuncture, which really really helps my arms.  Despite the rest, despite learning how to re-center and throw differently, I still have tendonitis.  Acupuncture helps SO SO SO much.  Before Christmas I wondered if I would be able to continue pottery as my profession.  I was in both physical and emotional pain because of it.  I'm happy to say that while my arms may never be 100% and I probably shouldn't, say, swing an axe ever again, with proper care and treatment, I'll be able to keep working.

One nice side benefit of acupuncture is that is can be very relaxing.  It is almost as if the "irritation" section of my brain gets turned off and I feel incredibly peaceful.  I was very grateful for this because a dear friend's home burned on Friday.  They lost 90% of their possessions due to fire, smoke, or water damage.  The community I live in- both in Memphis and online- responded with incredible generosity and grace.  By Saturday evening all of my friend's basic needs were met.  I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of love I've witnessed.  I'm also overwhelmed with things- donations have been pouring in and I'm working on getting her "good mom" stash of hand-me-downs for her 4 kids boxed up in appropriate seasons and sizes.  I've been very fortunate to have friends hand down clothes for my son- they are all up in the attic in bins waiting for him to be a size 8, 9, etc.  If that security (because somehow, it is security) was suddenly gone, I'd miss it. 

I feel like my life is very full right now- and very busy.  I am grateful to you for your friendship and support.  I had some big plans for making things this month, but they'll wait.  Thanks for being here, and thanks for reading.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

to make changes.  to read more.  to fulfill our goals.  to think creatively.  to ask deeper questions.  to love each other.  to make grand plans.  to do something fun.  to stretch our boundaries.  to re-envision success.  to find compassion.  to be the essence of who we are.

Oh, and I'm doing the 365 project again (you can see 2010's photos here.  I can't wait to get back up into the studio tomorrow morning when school starts up again.

Have a nice week!