I am thankful to be a potter, particularly during the pandemic. This craft has helped me cope with the long hours of isolation by allowing me to create and make. On the other hand, selling pottery during a pandemic is fraught with difficulty; pottery is a luxury item, and when the population is struggling to cope and survive, luxury items sometimes fall off the radar. However, I believe potters will survive and thrive for the following reasons:
Potters are problem solvers.
Craig Roth was my first pottery teacher, and generously helped me get started on my journey as a potter and maker. One remembers what the good teachers say. He told me, “Potters are problem solvers because they have to deal them every day…if you don’t enjoy solving problems, making pottery is probably not for you”. Never a truer word was spoken. In every stage of creating beautiful pots, problems pop up, some expected and some unexpected, and have to be dealt with. But dealing with them successfully is immensely satisfying at so many levels. Problem solving is crucial during difficult times.
Potters like to interact with each other and share.
Potters generously share information and inspiration. We revel in our successes and we realize sharing knowledge, which enables others to succeed, just amplifies our joy. We thrive when we are part of groups who get together to learn, critique, and problem solve. We come away from the interaction full of knowledge and inspiration, ready to create in our studios. We never get tired of learning, and we develop relationships with other potters during this process which provides us with a community to grow and learn within. I treasure the classes, workshops, and lunches I’ve participated in at The Village Potters Clay Center in Asheville, and The Bascom in Highlands, for all of these reasons. To a certain extent, this also applies to online learning through videos and social media posts. A social network maintains physical and mental health during a crisis.
Handmade is important.
In our modern world we’ve become dependent on that which is mass-produced, uniform, and cheap. Objects made by hand tend to cost more in time and money to produce; these items, which were so present in homes before the era of mass production, have become less common in modern times. So, why is handmade important? A handmade object is unique…it may be copied, but the subtle marks of the maker will always set each object apart, even when made by the same maker. Each handmade object represents the mind, personality, and skill of the maker who is willing to put themselves out there to share with others. When you pick up a favorite coffee mug or bowl and feel the heft, how the handle fits your hand, how the rim feels on your lips, how the glaze looks to your eye and feels to your touch and adds to your enjoyment of what you are eating or drinking, you gain an appreciation for what is handmade. Handmade items comfort and inspire, especially in difficult times.
Creating is important.
For the maker, creating something beautiful and useful satisfies a deep need within the human brain. I believe God, who created us in His image, put this need within us so we could understand Him and enjoy the process of being a creator on a much more limited scale than His. Creation clearly brought God joy: “And God was pleased with what he saw” is a phrase that follows each day of God’s creative process, as recorded in Genesis. Creating grounds and satisfies us during times of crisis.
Community is important.
Sharing what one creates with others, receiving acceptance and affirmation from them, and collaborating with them to create is another opportunity for us to satisfy a deep need within our brain…we are created to be social beings and to learn and share with each other. The relationships we have and will develop will see us through the pandemic.
Thanks for reading…
Potter/Owner of Tree House Pottery, and TVPCC student