Alabama Clay Conference

25 Feb

Before we get knee-deep into the worries of the day, let’s start here, with a recap of the weekend, framed as a thank you note to the presenters and organizers of the Alabama Clay Conference.


It looked like a nipple, and I left it that way. My (modesty or prudishness, depending on your point of view) was already at work, directing the piece, switching gears from my intended repetition of the movement I had just made in my clay to doing something else. But what? And while I sorted through, “What?” I remembered Gerit’s “A Day at the Pool”, and I just settled down. I left it alone. I did not change course. 

After I finished my pinch pot (my pottery cross-over application of the “shitty little first draft” Anne Lamott describes in her book “Bird by Bird”) I went to the turnip garden. It was a silly quest, an attempt to recapture a lost love/work, as all the turnips left are much smaller than the one I used before. Back in the barn, with a fist-sized turnip with a shape that I liked (and a heart-shaped scar, of all things), I was about to drape my slab over it when I stopped. Ah yes, circular things. Dirk’s demonstration. I have to say it went much better this time around, although the jury is still out on just how well the whole idea is going to shape up. 

About 35 years ago, I made some homemade flash cards so that I could begin to teach Andrew, my four-year-old, the alphabet. A friend who stopped by that evening, spying my work, asked, “Did Andrew draw that!?” Nothing doing though, but that my fingers are itching to buy some china paint, and “move it around until it looks like a duck.” 

I was fingers-a-flying when I came back to the hotel Friday night, posting quotes and notes on Facebook. Normally, I would have put them in Evernote, but I was too excited to tuck it all away in a notebook. My niece, who rarely comments on my posts, said “Look what I found!” My granddaughter said, “I love your status updates.” My daughter responded, “I think I would like your teachers/classmates.” 

And she would. I told my husband that I would get into pottery just to take your classes. (Not that that, deep sigh, is ever likely to really happen, but if I get a chance to take another workshop, and beginners are welcome, you can count me in. We’ll probably need to have a dumpster close by.) 😉 

I have no other conference with which to compare this one, but I have to say that I think the format, with the three artists working together, communicating with each other, and bouncing off of one another, was a part of the magic. If you had three artists  who didn’t like each other, that might not work so well, but this was wonderful. The conference had great bones, and that is no small thing. 

I am a-swirl with little snippets of words, of ideas about how to approach and apply this new-to-me creative endeavor. I am tempted to “tell all” so that you will grasp the impact of your teaching, and my appreciation of it. I think though, that it will be more appreciative to respect your time and not send you a massive missive. To just, instead, close with

Thank you. 

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