Posts tagged ‘hands’

Life of a Pottery Wheel

By: Rebecca Taylor

**Previously published in 2009 by Perspectives Magazine**

Some say I live a mundane life, but I just laugh and tell them it is anything but that. I am a creator of many fine items like vases, which hold the flowers picked by tiny hands and given with great care to their mothers. Not only do I assist in inventing beautiful items and precious memories but I also create a living for Linai Prichard, the pottery teacher and a supplemental income for a few of her students. If you have not yet guessed, I am a pottery wheel. It is a very rewarding vocation, everyday my heart is touched by many different individuals. I find my life intriguing getting to be involved in the process of creating unique projects depending on the artist’s mood and personality. I love seeing a chunk of clay become a useful or decorative item. There are classes in my home at the studio for all ages and skill levels. Seeing the children, some as young as three work their magic on me is amazing. They are so unafraid of making a mistake in shaping their artwork, unlike some of the adults who take a more cautious approach. Children are fearless when it comes to making a mess; to them designing a piece of pottery is like making a different kind of mud pie.

The feeling of hands of any age turning the clay over my body creates an incredible sensation. I wonder if this is what it feels like for a dog to be brushed by its master or to play fetch, at peace doing what it loves. Sometimes when nobody is spinning my wheel, I sit and watch the students decorate their pottery; some are talented in drawing and create very realistic designs like waterfalls and horses. Other students use designs are more abstract; some even engrave or paint words on their pieces. As long as these students are happy with themselves and their creations, I can smile.

The most frightening part of the pottery experience is having the artwork be placed in the kiln. The hot air can be felt in the studio, it is like having all of the windows closed in a kitchen and turning the stove up to full blast on a sultry day. This makes sense to me because mostly a kiln is a giant oven heated to harden the clay and preserve the design of the artwork that is on it. Most of the time the pottery comes from the kiln unscathed,  but there have been a few times when cracks have appeared and Linai assists her student in remodelling the piece with extra clay to give it the necessary thickness it needs so it does not fracture in the kiln. When I see beautifully completed pieces come out of the kiln safely, I always breathe a sign of relief. These pieces have a lot more courage than I do, I am afraid of the fire in the kiln.

In my eighteen years of being a pottery wheel, the most amazing experience that I recall is the story of Jennifer and Stephane Arbour. Jennifer had brought her boyfriend Stephane to a pottery class so he could see why this art form was important to her. Jennifer guided Stephane’s hands on me, the clay becoming caked to their hands as we sculpted the terracotta into a plate. Jennifer and Stephane left the studio after setting the plate aside to dry. Two days later, they came back and as Jennifer sat down to paint a teacup she had previously sculpted, Stephane sat down to design the plate. He experimented with some colour and eventually said, “Jennie, what do you think of this?”

Jennifer looked over at the plate and read the message that was surrounded by hearts and smiley faces. It read: Jennie, will you marry me?” Jennifer didn’t say anything for a minute, but her face held a surprised expression. “Yes, I’ll marry you.” she answered engulfing Stephane in a hug. Linai took of picture of them standing with their plate. This picture hangs in the studio reminding us all how pottery can touch lives in so many ways. Anyone, regardless of age or talent can give me a whirl, and if you’re having fun so will I, no matter what the outcome of the project. I’ve seen many improvements in the students’ works over the years as they learn with practice how to be a better potter. I hold their joy and perseverance close to my heart. I think I have the best job on earth. Living the life of a pottery wheel is never boring.

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Life Through a Mother’s Hands

**previously published by All Rights Reserved in 2008**

            We are elderly now; we have felt the world through our fingertips. Disfigured and full of arthritis, making a move is now difficult for us. What can you expect from ninety‑four year-old hands? Once we moved like magic making beautiful music come out of the piano that sat in my human’s parlour. How the children loved to sit and listen to us chime out old tunes. Now this old house where we sit is empty. The children have left home and moved away where they have their own lives, but I haven’t forgotten wiping away their tears and embracing them in their times of joy and sorrow. We have but ourselves to converse with, eight twisted fingers, and two thumbs who have shared a lifetime together.

            “The times we used to have,” said the right index finger. “Remember how long we had to hold onto the handle bars of Nellie’s bike, but eventually she was ready to reach out with her own replicas of a younger us.”

            “Being Miss Caroline’s hands have given us many adventures,” answered the left pinkie.

            “We first got to touch her beloved Isaac’s hands, their warmth radiated our souls, and I still wear his token of love seventy-five years later, even though he has been gone for more than a decade,” said the left ring finger.

            “Holding the wee babes just as they entered this world, all five of them and the life they have given us since then.”

            The calluses and blisters that we have gotten along the way are not a hard price to pay for the happiness we have received. These hands still sting with the want to smack Clark Davis when he dumped Annie at the alter. He decided marrying a Culhane, even for their money wasn’t an acceptable thing to do. The poor girl cried buckets, some of them soaking into our flesh as we cradled her gently like when she was little. Now she has what she deserves, a husband, children and grandchildren to brighten her days. I hope the whole family comes to visit soon, all forty-three of them; they’d give us useless old hands something to do.

            I wish we could go back to the days when we moved like lightening loving, fixing, and caring for everything in our path. The days when children came running in wanting us to caress their kittens and fix their dolly’s boo boos have all but gone, only to return on their brief visits and even then I seem incapable of doing even the simplest of tasks with my ineffective fingers. How they want to move but can’t. The strife knowing that we are no longer able to do the things we once did is overwhelming. We used to make beautiful hand crafted quilts for our children, grand children, and great grandchildren but now we can no longer hold a needle or the scissors needed to cut the cloth. We once did great things, we had a family who needed us, and we got out in the community and took food to the less fortunate. We played cards well into the night but now my hands cannot hold the things that I love. Our days of glory have come and gone but thankfully, even through the pain of each tiny movement we make we can remember how things once were, in us are the memories, the feeling of the wrapping paper on a homemade gift, the washcloth’s water and soap soaking into us as we cleaned a popsicle stained face, hands gripping each other. We were given everything in this world, the greatest gift, being a mother’s hands.

In Our Hands

by: Rebecca Taylor

In Our Hands
Life’s too short for trivialities
Moments lost worrying about things that cannot be changed
Uncertainty reigns worldwide
We must tell those who matter why and how much
Never end a conversation with a harsh word that might remain that way
Plans go askew and emotions confuse
We mustn’t make excuses to be unhappy
Or let ourselves be held back
Our future starts with us
How we live rests in our hands.

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