The Potter

‘Why is a potter second only to God?’

The boys shook their heads in unison and Iskander explained, ‘Because God created everything out of earth, air, fire and water, and these are the very same things that a potter uses to make his vessels. When a potter makes something, he acts in the image of God.’

‘Are you more important than the Sultan Padishah then?’ asked Mehmetcik, astonished.

‘Not on earth,’ replied Iskander, ‘but perhaps in Paradise.’

–          By Louis de Bernieres from Birds Without Wings

I sculpted my clay into a woman.  She dried in the air before being baked in the kiln’s fire.  Pleased she emerged intact, Michelle, my teacher and I discussed many, many options for the finishing touch – color.

Michelle guided me towards some tried and true glazes, encouraging me to keep it simple.  I choose only two colors.  I poured Fire Opal, a pinkish/blue over her headdress and powdered her face white.  Having prepared my creation the best I could, I let go.  My woman faced the fire alone.

As I walked into the studio, I was anxious to see how she managed when mixed with the other creations and put under pressure.

To summarize, she fared poorly.

Under the combination of the elements, she cracked.  My intended colors did not stick.  The vibrant pinks and blues melted away.  Their residue burnt her surface and scorched it brown.  Although she retained her original shape, she did not turn out at all like the woman I imagined.

And then I wondered, ‘If God is a potter, how disappointed does he feel when looking down at the earth? ‘

From Clay She Molded an Image of Herself

This was actually after the second session. I forgot to take a photo of the first session.

The past four weeks I have been taking a sculpturing class from Michelle Karam.  For twenty years Michelle has been operating a ceramics studio.  This is the first time I got the opportunity to take her class.

She is teaching head sculpting.  Using her technique, in 8 sessions, we have gone from a figure that resembled a grey alien to a completed project.  She taught an amazing method to make the eyes.

Session 3 - adding ears and a base.

Session 4 - Fixing shoulder proportions and adding hair.

Session 5 -

Session five, I had to give her a lobotomy. I cut off the back of the head, scraped out the interior clay and reattached the cranium. I gained a new respect for brain surgeons.

Session 6-7.

For sessions 6-7, I spent most of the time hollowing out the stand and entire head, before stuffing it with newspaper.  I began attaching a hairpiece.  It was too heavy.  Her neck split open and her head fell backwards, nearly rolling off the table into my neighbor’s lap.

With help, I repositioned the head so she leaned forward and patched her severed neck.  Then added clay to the stand to support it.  Once everything was stable, again, I attached a head scarf.

The headscarf

It took four tries to get the headscarf correct.

Then I practiced making flowers until I came up with a strange lily and hibiscus arrangement.  It was time to be done – for now.  The class has been a fantastic experience.

The final outcome.

The amusing aspect of sculpting is that many of the heads looked quite a bit like their creator despite the attempts to create an Other.  I do not think mine looks like me.  It was only as I stared at Mojo over dinner did I realize she resembled him – with bigger lips.

I have no idea what will happen when she dries and is placed in the kiln.  I don’t know if she will live through her trial by fire.

Perhaps like the Divine I will have to create billions and billions in the hope that one day my creation will be perfect.


Tales by Chapter

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