Sunday, November 20, 2011

New skills

I’ve written previously about some of the cooking skills I’ve been working on this year, including canning, making tapas, and most recently, catering a party for 40. I have not, however, limited my explorations to the kitchen: last month I bought a DLSR camera and took a photography workshop; Miss B and I have started learning to play the guitar this fall; and today, for the first time ever, I attempted pottery.

A friend of mine who has a pottery studio in Lawrence offered me (and Miss B, if she was interested) a free lesson in pot-throwing, and this afternoon we went to try it out. I expected Miss B to take up the other activity on offer—bowling with the dads—but somewhat to my surprise, she opted to stay in the studio and give pottery a try. I helped her figure out how to run her wheel, turned her over to K.’s capable instruction, and then settled myself in to start learning.

It was a very zen experience. I attempted four pots, and ruined (“crashed”) three of them, but considering I was starting from zero I hadn’t really expected anything else. K. told me that quite often adult students get frustrated at not being able to produce something right away, but I really enjoyed getting my hands dirty and putting everything else aside to focus on how to understand what the clay was doing and how what I did with my hands affected it. Even though I was sitting down the whole time, it reminded me of the kind of intense physical activity where you have to focus completely on what you’re doing and your brain switches off completely from the kind of low-level buzz of background thinking that is going on the rest of the time.

My one successful piece is going to end up as a mug, I think. Next time I go, I’ll get to figure out how to paint it. By then maybe I’ll have made enough progress using my DLSR to photograph it. Attractively lit, even.

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