At one of my very first wheel throwing classes the instructor gave us some advice that has stuck with me – Don’t get too attached to any of your pieces until you get them home safely.
So many things can happen to your piece from the time it is made on the wheel to the time it comes out of the kiln after it’s final firing: obviously it could be knocked over, or you may trim through the bottom accidentally, or the kiln could misfire, or someone else’s piece could break while in the kiln and fuse itself to your piece, or the pot may fly off the wheel while you’re trimming, or someone else’s piece may fly off their wheel while they’re trimming and smack right into your pot… and those are just the scenarios that I can come up with just off the top of my head.
Now whenever I start a new workshop (as the instructor) I recommend that no one fall in love with their piece until it’s at home.
The trouble is, I keep finding myself falling in love with a few of my pieces well before they are finished. I can’t help it. When I see an idea I had for a teapot come to fruition on the wheel in front of me, it feels great. And when that piece turns out as I had imagined it would – or better, my heart fills with joy. But this makes me a bit anxious when I’m moving the piece from my studio to the kiln room and while it’s firing I’m hoping it turns out ok and if it’s a teapot I get really anxious to test the spout to see if it drips, which is something you can’t really test until after the glaze (and final) firing.
This week I was reminded of why I shouldn’t let myself fall in love. A while ago I made a cute little teapot with a matching teacup, I made three little dragonflies for the set, two for the teapot and one for the cup. For many days I let this little set sit out on top of my work surface rather than having it buried in the shelves with all the other drying pots, just so I could see it each day. I fell in love, hard and fast.
On Sunday I finally bisque-fired the little set and wouldn’t you know it, when it came out of the kiln the lid was stuck and I couldn’t get it loose. I got a slight feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach and all I could hear was that voice, “Don’t get too attached until it’s safely home..”
I tried to jiggle the lid a little; it didn’t budge. I tried to turn the lid; no movement, I tried tapping it lightly with my finger; no luck. It looked as though the lid was fused to the pot. I began to accept the fact that this little set was not going to become the set I wanted it to be. I was giving myself a pep talk, “It’s not so bad, at least I got more practice with making a tea set and the dragonflies turned out well, I can use it for testing that glaze idea…”
Then I took a deep breath and tried once more to move the lid. I pressed down on the lid slightly and tried to turn it, it moved and then popped off. Phew! I was relieved! My little tea set was ok!
I nearly jumped for joy until I remembered that it still needs to be glazed and fired once more. Ugh. For now though, I think I’ll let it sit on the shelf as a reminder to take my own my advice. I’ll let you know how/if it survives glazing.