Sunday, June 3, 2012
Now I know why they call it ‘throwing’ clay.
It wasn’t a good day on the wheel.
The clay was sticking to my fingers. I added more water and it went from bad to worse. It got mushy. And when I pulled it up, the clay got wobbly, lopsided and floppy. Yuck.
What did I do first?
Blame myself. The thoughts in my monkey mind swung through the trees of my fears. I wasn’t centering the clay on the wheel correctly. I wasn’t adding enough water. I was adding too much water. I didn’t wedge the clay well. I wedged it too much. I was pulling up the clay the wrong way.
I was just trying to make some small dessert bowls. Small cups and bowls are easy for me. Normally, this porcelain clay has been relaxing and fun to shape. Not today. Today, it became wads of soppy, gummy mud. Shapeless. Squishy.
Even as I cut another sticky lumpy bowl off the bat, I did not give up. No matter what my mind said, I kept going and going and going. Just like the energizer bunny but in this case, my negative thoughts just kept beating me like the drum stick beating that drum. It got worse and worse and worse.
Pull harder, here. Push in softer, there. Move your hands this way. No. Put your hands the other way. The faster the wheel went, the faster my mind whirled. My monkey mind with its tangled logic tried to solve my problem.
I threw the clay, alright. Across the room it flew hitting the wall with a gooey slap. Even patient, Jilly, my zen master and studio dog, lifted her head from her cushion to stare at me. I had lost my center, thrown my clay and totally failed.
Or did I?
Maybe, there was no problem here.
Maybe, the problem was thinking there was a problem. A problem needs a solution, right? It’s the clay. Or it’s the day. Or it’s the weather. Or it’s my technique. Or it’s my wrist. Or it’s the wheel. Or the way I’m sitting or not sitting.
Thinking or not thinking.
Now, there’s a thought. Don’t think. Throw.
Give it all up. The clay. The day. And the person on a mission of perfection.
Just throw it. Go ahead. Across the room…sloop, thwack, slurp, slide and smoosh.
Funny thing. After I did that, I pulled up a really cute small bowl and a spoon holder. Not my best. But not my worst, either.
Maybe now, I really do know what they mean by ‘throwing’ clay.