80: Glazed Over

Early in the morning, I sit and sketch out my ideas for glazing and decoration. In my mind I can almost picture the end product, but there is really no way to tell for sure (at least with my limited knowledge) how each piece will react with the searing flames, because the colors change completely after firing. Everything seems to be an important variable – temperature, presure, timing, size, shape, glaze composition, glaze thickness, impurities, just to mention a few. But the thing about ceramics is that, with just a few basic skills, it is actually rather difficult to produce a bad piece. To me, there is just something very alluring and precious about a hard, solid form that is created out of a modest lump of clay. And especially for the Japanese, a ceramic piece is made all the more valuable when it bears the imperfections of being hand-made, rather than being churned out from a soulless factory line.

So many parallels to life. We all know that it is really hard to achieve perfection, regardless of the paths we choose to take. But attaining perfection doesn’t necessarily make one beautiful. And yet it is not hard at all to be beautiful. We are beautiful because we are, each and every one of us, hand-made. Each of us special. Each of us imperfect. And each of us wondrously, splendidly beautiful.

I dip and swirl the pieces in the murky, gooey glazes; I pencil out designs; I paint ridges and mountains. And when I’m done, I sit back and gaze at the dull blues, whites and greys before me. I have no idea at all what any of the pieces will look like at the end. But somehow, I’m not worried.

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