A few months ago, my mother-in-law told me she’d been dreaming of taking a ceramics class. A wheel class for beginners is proving difficult to find here in Vancouver, but I did eventually come across a one-night workshop at a local arts studio on how to make a mug.
If I had to name a single kind of object that’s my favourite, that embodies qualities I find important and beautiful, it would be the humble handmade mug. These are the objects I can’t resist at a craft fair. These are the objects I seek out at open studio events.
Even when money is tight and original art is too expensive to buy, a handmade mug can be affordable. That I’ll use it regularly as part of a daily ritual that brings me joy makes it all the more valuable a purchase. Working from home, I routinely use two mugs a day – one for my morning coffee and one for tea in the afternoon; maybe another for herbal tea at night. I have a relationship with my mugs.
So it was thrilling to make my own at the workshop last week. Clay feels so good. It felt good to throw it down onto the table to get air bubbles out of it. It felt good to roll it and smooth it into this shape, however clumsy I felt about it. It felt good to quietly work on it as my mother-in-law quietly worked on hers next to me.
I realized while enjoying myself so completely that this mug is as much a product of my first Year of Making as anything else I’ve made*. It wasn’t too long ago that a one-night workshop about something I had no experience with would have been a little stressful to me, no matter how much I wanted to be there. But I wasn’t at all stressed about making this mug. I wasn’t concerned about getting it done in time. I wasn’t concerned about screwing it up to the point that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the finished product. At the same time, I was excited about the finished product. Though I was happy to live with the many imperfections I put into this mug, I didn’t go all Mighty Ugly on it. I didn’t throw this first mug under the bus in the interest of calming myself down. I started out calm. My enjoyment of learning and exploring and making was total.
I’ll show you a photo of the fired mug after I pick it up!
* I haven’t been chronicling my second Year of Making on a daily basis, but I have continued to make something pretty much every day this year. And I’ve been thinking about how my experience this year has been different from my experience in 2014. I’ll write more about it very soon!
PS Are you doing a Year of Making? How’s it going?
PPS Do you want to do a Year of Making? There’s no rule about when to start, so start now! This can help.