For me, decorating perfection means eclectic styles and collections of beautiful things like pottery, pillboxes and match strikers. Jane Green
We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want. Lao Tzu
Pottery has long been a love of mine. I delight in every form of pottery and find it ever so difficult to rein in my need for yet another bowl, mug, tray, unusual vessel. Sometimes I wonder if this borders on obsessive compulsive behavior. Being on the art show circuit, imagine the amazing and talented potters I have come to know and whose work I have purchased. Each piece is like a unique friendship.
Years ago, with a great desire to become a potter, I enrolled in a class. Twice I fell off the wheel which I attributed to my enthusiasm and focused attention on the clay that was spinning in front of me. The instructor informed me that this had never happened to anyone in his class before. His look and words made me feel like a failure. In and of itself, this was probably not a sign that becoming a potter was unlikely, but I was certainly discouraged. Hearing of my disappointment, a friend suggested a most helpful reframe of the situation. Potters need someone to admire and buy their pots. Me! That could be me! That is me!
To walk through Simplicity is to see pottery at every turn. Each has a function or a reason for its acquisition and is placed to show its intended beauty. My latest is a playful clay house that both reminds and motivates me to write about Simplicity, as well as to create distinctive buildings in my paintings. This is a touchstone piece that helps me focus on specific ideas in my writing and painting. Its single purpose is to inspire and encourage me to dream.
That said, most of the pottery in Simplicity has a function. Opening the kitchen cupboards I see these rounded clay friends awaiting use for cereal, salads, coffee, and any and all things one can imagine. The ‘emptiness inside’, as Lao Tzu speaks of it, is its most important function. With an abundance of serving bowls, several have been routed into a different form of service. Both bathrooms have deep pottery bowls that hold items for the bath. Make-up items are gathered in a cracked bowl that could no longer hold liquid or be safe in its use with food, but is perfect in its new role. My bangle bracelets lie in waiting in a bowl created with the potter’s thumbprints visible on the outside. Residing on a bookshelf is an elongated bowl sculpted as a goose. Rocks from travels fill this unusual vessel. Some bowls hold a burning candle or my pens and markers. Others hold onions, garlic, squash and sweet potatoes in the kitchen. Their renewed service to our home is not only invaluable, but adds interest and beauty.
A number of years ago, Don and I celebrated an anniversary by purchasing a set of dinnerware from a potter whose work was most distinctive. When the order was ready, she offered to meet us half way to deliver the dishes. I responded with gratitude for her willingness to accommodate this transfer by shortening the two hour distance between us, but it was essential for us to come to her studio. I further explained that these were not just dishes we had ordered, but they were part of an expression of creativity that would enhance our table, our hospitality, our lives. To see where and how they were made was crucial to honoring their intention in our home. We arrived at her studio. She took us through the process of birthing these beautifully square shaped dinner and dessert plates, each with a slightly different glaze dripping from the artist’s touch. When using them, my mind easily returns to their humble beginning.
These clay bowls, trays, mugs and the odd looking house add a quality to living here at Simplicity. They are in service to enhancing our days with helpful function and delightful beauty. From the earth, shaped in the hands of the potter, then brought into our homes, each piece brings a holiness to grace our lives. Each empty bowl offers the capacity to hold the unknown. One potter wisely said to her students, “Try to put thought, time and care into making these useful objects with the hopes that the users will somehow connect with them beyond their intended purpose. “ That would certainly be true here in the rooms of Simplicity.