So what would you do if someone handed you a lump of potter’s clay and told you to be creative. Keep your answers clean, people. I’m being serious here. What would you do?
Maybe some of you would create lovely coffee mugs, figurines, or bowls. You would work the clay, loving the squishiness of it between your fingers, and you would see possibilities forming in your mind. Your talented hands would shape the clay, make love to it, transform it into a thing of beauty. Your mind would be full of ideas like “What would this lump of clay look like if I smoothed it here, added more clay there, attached a handle, made a checkerboard pattern, or painted it blue?”
You might decide to make a gift for someone you love. Your fingers would leave imprints on the clay to tacitly remind your loved one that you’re there with them, even when you’re miles away. They would be comforted by thoughts of you, remembering your agile hands molding the clay, feeling the love and time you put into the work, making the gift a perfect reflection of how you feel about them.
My talents do not lie in the “making-a-work-of-art-out-of-clay” realm. When handed a lump of clay, I inevitably will make something that my mother would have proudly put on her shelf of “special treasures” had I brought it home from kindergarten. My mother, who is still my biggest cheerleader, would swallow a grin and place my latest effort, brought home from a doctoral seminar, right next to the other one, which, bless her heart, she still has. Anyone looking at them would be hard pressed to identify which piece I made in kindergarten and which piece I made in the doc seminar.
Luckily for my mom, I made my latest clay work into a water bowl for my dog, Wreck. As long as the darn thing holds water, he’ll love it. I painted it blue and yellow, because I know that those are the only two colors dogs can see well. I wrote his name on it, lest anyone else should try to drink out of it and upset him. This water bowl is undoubtedly a work of love, if not a work of art.
It’s humbling to accept that there are some things that I'm just not going to do perfectly. But it’s empowering to realize that I can try my best and that someone, in this case my dog, will know that I love him enough to make this imperfect, lumpy clay gift for him with my own two hands. Maybe it is more about the love and less about the clay art than I thought. I like that.