You know the saying, “When life gives you lemons…” – it’s a saying I try to live by. I recently read a blog post by a potter who emphatically stated that when she screws up a pot she immediately trashes it, screams, cries, and says a lot of very bad words. I know the feeling.
Years ago I had the pleasure of hosting Ellen Shankin in my home while she was giving a workshop for our Texas Pottery and Sculpture Guild. She is a fabulous potter, teacher, and all-around wonderful person. One of the things she taught was about screwing up a pot you made, especially one you spent a lot of time creating. She said, don’t throw it away – take a deep breath, then take a second look. Whether it is while you are throwing, carving a leather hard piece, or unloading a kiln to find a disaster – see what you can learn or where the mistake might take you.
It’s hard! But, every time I mess up, I hear her words and try to obey. This has led to some really cool new work for me over time. Once, after spending hours carving a platter, I picked it up carelessly and broke off part of the rim. Eeek! I really wanted to throw that thing as far as I could, but Ellen’s words rang in my ears, so I gently put it down and walked away. Later, when I took a second look, I saw beauty in the broken part and decided to go with it. Now, those platters with a section of uneven, cut off edge are my best sellers! So I tried it with bowls. Who wants a perfectly round bowl or platter when you can have something unique? My customers love them.