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Firing Log

ancient kiln | 21st century logbook

March 20, 2006

Resting Hands

Filed under: General — odin @ 1:24 am

I did very little today. First excuse: I had to work at my day job. Second: I just need a day of rest before I really launch into preparations. I did do a few things: received some more wood; made a half-hearted attempt at stacking wood; finished the process of making pavers out of my scrap clay.

I don’t regret it. My hands need a rest or they’ll be useless and clumsy. I don’t mean this metaphorically at all. It’s disturbing but I get strange pains, numbness, locking fingers and such if I too much gripping. Preparing firewood is pretty rough — I have to choose my forms of abuse carefully.

I find that throwing is not difficult, but of all things, I’ve recently become quite interested in pinch pots. Unlike wheel work, humble little kindergarten level pinch pots do take a toll. What I find interesting about pinch pots is how the surface of the clay breaks and cracks, particularly when expanded from the inside. The effect is quite pronounced when the clay has dried and hardened a bit.

The most natural thing to pinch is a cup and of all the things I can make, I love making cups the most. Cups are held in the hands — they’re inherently tactile pieces meant to be touched. This fits well with how I derive satisfaction from pottery. I care not so much how a piece looks, but how it feels (FN 1). Cups and bowls are amazingly sensuous. When clasping a wonderful cup in my hands, I get a sense of beauty that is wholly unrelated to appearance. With eyes closed, the sense of touch can evoke feelings of warmth and ease more evocative than any decoration. And when one’s mood calls for a point or thorn, a sharp edge to jag into fingers, why settle for mere image? An emotionally charged cup needn’t “speak” with clever designs or artful drawings — it emotes with a power predating imagery or grammar or language.

Pinch pots seem to have the potential to get to this “unevolved” emotive quality more readily than thrown objects. I have much to learn about pinching though — technical qualities that can interfere with tactile seeing such as weight and balance must be right, and I’m still working on those elements. The only real way to learn is to keep pinching, and painful fingers slow that learning.

I don’t mind procrastinating a little. I need to maintain my strength.


1. I have no intent to denigrate painterly work. I have neither the skill nor the patience for such art and I respect people who surpass me. I’m merely stating my preference for a cup’s feel to its appearance. This is a personal preference not meant as a universal value judgment.

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