Life, as they say, sometimes hands you lemons. And as the saying goes, you’re supposed to make lemonade. I used to hate that saying because it felt like I was supposed to feel good about the bad things in life. I even got rather stubborn about it. I didn’t want anyone to trivialize my pain and, therefore, belittle the challenges in my life.
I think I missed the point.
The point, I believe now, is to view bad things not as good but as transformative.
Lumps, bumps and losses happen throughout life. From babyhood to adulthood, we have to leave part of our life behind to grow forward. Moving through those changes, quite literally, changes us. And we wouldn’t be living our life if it didn’t.
I moved away from a career in early childhood development into advertising but that education made me a better mom. I might have failed throwing clay in high school, but it was failure that got me to go back to art class.
As an artist, I flop all the time.
I throw bowls all the time, some crack and some don’t. I have researched and googled and tried new clays, new trimming ideas, new tools and still I, sometimes, get lumps and bumps and cracks. I’ve had black underglazes turn blue and brown.
I’ve done big pinch pot sculptures that dried for months and then, blew up in the kiln. Lately, the small pinch pot sculptures I made, looked fine before firing and then shrunk and got all lumpy.
But sometimes, my flops flip into something else.
One of my recent flops became this scalloped edged bowl. Now it’s far from perfect, but it started me thinking about other ways I could change the shape of a bowl. I mean, why does every bowl have to be perfectly round? Flop flipped.
Another flop was the pinch pot sculpture idea. After a few years, I gave it a try again. Fooling around one day, I created this little creature. Not a complete flop, but not exactly what I wanted.
I kept going. I tried different clays. I tried different ways to make it. All of a sudden there was a whole menagerie of them on my studio shelves.
Most of them looked good, but one flopped. It cracked in several places and I was ready to throw it away. But throwing caution, to the kiln in this case, I slapped on some clear glaze and put it in a bisque fire load. Much to my surprise, he came out in one piece! I even like the glossy glaze instead of the matte look I’d planned.
Life, this time, did turn a lemon into lemonade. This cracked and disfigured little creature transformed into a happy go lucky Party Animal.
Now, I’m not saying my life is going to transform into one big party. But I think this little fellow and his buddies are going to make it a lot more fun.