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Muse

Self Nurturing: Working The Clay

Many years ago, perhaps in 1981 or 1982, I treated myself to a short course in pottery.  I was living in London at the time and worked in the area called The City.  This is the financial district where all the major banks have their head offices and various supporting financial institutions and the London Stock Exchange are also located there.

An adult education program was being offered in a school near my office and one of the classes on the evening schedule was pottery.  I have always had artistic inclinations and loved indulging my creative side.  The course was only six weeks long and, because it was being offered within the City education system, the cost was very low.  Pottery was one area of the arts that I had not tried and so I enrolled.

As soon as I touched the wet clay I was hooked.  There is something both soothing and sensual about working with clay.  I am a very tactile, hands-on type person so I was in my element.  By the end of the first class I already had two pieces made and ready to dry.  I could barely wait till the following week when we made another, slightly more complicated piece and also glazed our first work. 

Upon returning to the third class I was ecstatic.  There on a table sat two items with my name printed neatly on a label in front of them.  They looked like something that I would buy in a store.  They looked professional.   One was a flat, rectangular, plate-size dish with a slightly raised, inch-wide border that I had glazed in a deep burgundy red overlaid with a black speckle effect. 

The other was an eight inch tall cylindrical container with a lid that had a small loop handle on top.  This I had glazed in a soft grey-blue that was slightly mottled in effect, even allowing hints of light green here and there.  I had engraved the letter “R” in this piece because I had made it as a gift for my mother.  It sits upon my hearth today.

I made several other pieces over the course of the six-week class.  I gave them as gifts to my family members for Christmas.  But the class finished all too quickly and nothing more was offered.  I researched several other adult schools but found no more pottery classes.  I felt as though I had eaten an appetizer and was still hungry for more – lots more. 

Years went by and I moved back to Italy and life took a totally different turn.  I remarried and started a second family at age forty and got a little lost in child rearing and home making.  Years passed, other activities filled my life and I forgot about pottery until recently the hunt for a gift for a friend took me to a small art gallery and there was the sign:  Pottery Class – any level, come and have fun.

I signed up in a heart beat and two weeks ago went to my first evening of working the clay again.  It was as though I had never stopped touching this marvelous material.  Clay is so malleable, so soft, so giving and forgiving. If something doesn’t go quite the way you expect, you just wet it down and start over.  My heart was singing and I shaped and designed and created until my joy was on overload!

We used three different techniques and created three different bowls.  Each one was very unique in shape and finished design.  One was very smooth on the exterior but we cut out flower and leaf pieces and put them on rather like an appliqué.  On another we engraved whatever pattern we desired.  On the third one, which was very open and shallow, we created a textured finish on the top side and left it smooth underneath.

Tonight we went back to glaze our pieces.  So many colors and finishes to choose from!  I made each one different, but somehow either the color mauve or eggplant seemed to make its way somewhere onto each piece.  My soul was very happy by the end of the evening.  Now I just have to be patient.  Our teacher will fire our pieces in the kiln tomorrow and they will be ready for pick-up on Saturday.

This was just a two-evening class.  But before I left I spoke with the teacher.  More classes are coming up and she is hoping to offer them on a regular basis.  Thank you God, I need this kind of soul food.  My creative muse needs nurturing on a regular basis.                   

Musings: Time Away From The Muse

 

I just spent four days at a Convention and was not able to write.  There is a bitter-sweetness that comes over me when I am separated from my lap-top and cannot write.  So why not take it along, I hear you ask.  Isn’t that what lap-tops are about – transportability?

There is definitely truth in that.  However, the Convention required my “presence” from morning to late in the evening, and I have come to respect my body and its need for sleep.  So I chose not to bring the lap-top and try to get something done late at night and to take a rest from writing.

I felt very happy with my choice.  I was able to give my attention fully to the Convention, which is what I needed to do.  However, once or twice as I lay in my bed in those precious moments between wakefulness and sleep,  I found myself thinking of my lap-top and wondering if it was missing me:-).

Silly you say, to give personality to a lap-top.  But don’t we do that with many of our inanimate day-to-day objects and machines?   How many of us name our cars and boats and talk to them or about them as though they had a mind or a soul?  And I know there are lots of people who have conversations with their computers, including my geeky, techie husband.

But there you are, I had those thoughts.  I was also aware that the Muse was lurking in little corners of my mind, dropping random ideas here and there, and I do admit to jotting down a thought or two when I took a break from the various sessions over the weekend.

So here I am home again.  The fact of the matter is that I have been home for two days and this is the first time I have brought the lap-top out to the screen room and allowed my fingers to bring to life the words that run around in my head and heart.  Why so long, you ask.  Well that brings me to another aspect of my unique personality.

I have a “discipline” problem, always had it.  Once I get away from doing something, no matter how good I feel when I do it, it always takes effort to get back into the swing of it.  (I’m very much like that when it comes to exercise!!)  It may have something to do with that “flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” thing or it may be connected to the purely “lazy streak” that exists inside this body that loves to be busy.

I know, I know, that’s a contradiction in terms, an oxymoron.  But then that’s part of my unique personality too:-).  (Remember how I mentioned in another posting that “I’m egotistical in my humility”?)  So even as I have wanted to write ever since getting home on Sunday afternoon, so I have procrastinated and found other things to do – or not. 

There was a moment yesterday when I went and stood in front of the lap-top.  My right hand reached out and made a tactile connection for a few seconds.  Then my contrary mind decided that it wanted to do something else – or not.       

Poetry: An Italian View

I lived for many years in Italy – almost half my life actually.  So much of my life experience is based on those years.  To say that I love Italy is putting it mildly.  Italy is my “soul home”.  It is where I feel most at home.  It is the place that when I arrive there I feel that internal soft sigh and a voice that says,  “Ah, I’m home.”

I think the creative Muse was awakened in me during all those years.  Or perhaps it would be more truthful to say she was re-awakened.  It was during those years that I went back to painting for the first time since my teens, and it was in Italy that I began to write poetry.

Ten of those years were spent on the island of Sardinia.  It was actually on a return visit to Sardinia,to the southern part of the island, near the capital of Cagliari, that I had an incredible experience one evening sitting on a beach at Santa Margherita di Pula.  It was a dark yet star-studded night and the water was calm and still, like sheet glass.  And then I was gifted to see a full moon rise, and this is what I wrote when I went home that night.

Full Moon Rise

It must have been an invitation such as this,

That sent Columbus round the world.

He must have stood upon the shore one summer’s eve

To watch the gentle waves unfurled.

And as he gazed into the dark and distant night,

An orange glow appeared to East.

With bated breathe he sat to watch the shadowy sky,

Yet ignorant of the coming feast.

Amidst that mellow, musky haze where sky meets sea,

There blossomed forth an amber bloom,

A perfect sphere that seemed to hang suspended there

As ripe as woman’s fertile womb.

Then slowly, inch by inch, it left horizon’s line

And started on a slow ascent

Into the violet, velvet dark of August’s night,

Toward the West it leant.

And as it carefully cleaved a path among the stars,

The amber ball to yellow paled,

But t’was a brilliant pallor, clear and lemon-bright,

The splendid, sparkling stars it veiled.

Upward it arched,  the heavens high to reign,

While o’er the seas its light was spread,

Like myriads of dancing diamonds on the waves below,

Connected to a single thread.

A wondrous, silver, shimmering street across the sea,

The gate to worlds yet unexplored.

All this Columbus must have seen one summer’s eve,

The morn his sails to set abroad.

 

August 1982

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