Friday, May 2, 2014

Greylocks and the Three Bowls

Where to begin this tangled tale? I know - "Once upon a time there was this old woman who had a love affair with pottery. She threw a few pots when she was younger, but by the time old age and arthritis caught up with her, she knew she had thrown her last pot."

I wrote about that last pot, or bowl in this case, in my post 'Form Follows Function' here. I lamented then about ever getting the piece finished - glazed and final firing. The bowl had been made in 2007. That blog was posted in 2010. Finally last month while we were on our trip, I received an e-mail from the woman who heads up the volunteers at the Corning Fine Arts Center. If I could come to the last night of the current pottery class I could glaze my bowl and have it fired. My biggest fear was that the last class was going to be held while we were still on vacation, but luckily it wasn't until after we returned.

The glazing of the pottery. The members of the spring class seemed a happy bunch. You could tell they had really enjoyed their time and the quantity and quality of pots they turned out was impressive.

Last night I went back to pick up my bowl - that's it front and center - and to see how some of the other glazes had turned out. It was fun to see the results.

I didn't spend much time with the instructor, Paul (center, back, in bandanna), but I think I would really enjoy taking a class from him. He appears to be very laid back in his approach to teaching. My first impression of him was an old hippy. It is a description I don't think he would mind one bit. He did tell me he was originally from Long Island, NY, moved to Iowa for a more peaceful setting after he returned from Vietnam, and began his artistic life as a painter before turning to pottery about twelve years ago.

The night we glazed our pottery pieces, Paul showed us one of his that he had fired without glazing. It is the large pot in the middle. He was saying something about what a poor pot it was when I said,  "I love it, I think it's beautiful". He handed it to me and said, "Here, you can have it." I was speechless. I felt weird about accepting it and said so. But he said one of the fun things about making pottery was giving it away. Awesome.

Here's another view of my bowl tipped so you can see more of the outside glaze. Paul suggested I let some of the glaze run which I did and am pleased with the result. The little bowl is another of Paul's which was for sale at the Fine Arts Center.

I love going into the Arts Center and just walking around looking at all the lovely pottery, paintings and jewelry for sale. It is a good place to find unique gifts. (

This is a picture of one of Paul's Mask series. It is a prime example of "When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade". He said it was his first attempt at making masks, but when he opened the kiln, all the masks were in pieces. Instead of throwing them away, he collaborated with a woodworker friend and came up artwork that he sold for an "obscene amount of money".

Another of the broken masks mounted on wood. I like the round one best, personally. You can learn more about Paul and his creations at He recently opened an art gallery, The Painted Camel, in Macedonia which I hope to visit soon.

It was a long and winding road for my little bowl - from start in 2007 in Corning, to moving to Creston and setting on a shelf in the cupboard for seven years - to final firing. It will always amaze me how you can take three elements, earth, water and fire, and turn them into something functional as well as artistic.

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