Clay figures and friendship
Tuesday, June 7, 2005 at 06:54AM
Political Mammal in Personal

Next to the couch in my living room is a rectangular plastic container with a green top whose original use was to hold ten pounds of “Deli-Cat” cat food. That container now serves as a place to keep air-tight and thus moist a similar weight of potter's clay. And the box is a significant improvement over the plastic bag I used to use for the same purpose.

When I feel like it and I have a moment, I open the container, tear off a hunk of clay, and make a small figure. It takes me a few minutes, and for some reason it feels productive and therapeutic. Making figures out of clay with your hands is something akin to doodling. I have no ego involved in the figues—my aim is not artistry or representation, which is fortunate because I am not talented in that way. (Figures by my sister or brother, who also make things of clay from time to time, show significantly more flair, but perhaps less idiosyncrasy).

I do notice that if I make things regularly, my hands and mind get better at it. Of late I make them pretty infrequently, so I feel clumsier and less imaginative. But this morning I did like my modest little creation.

Currently on the kitchen counter there are about fifteen bone-dry figures that have accumulated over the past weeks. When I get enough to make it worthwhile, I will fire the batch in the small electric kiln that sits in my basement. Then I will glaze them, and fire them once more.

It has been a long time since I ran the kiln, but I am looking forward to seeing the next group pass through the process.

Most of the completed figures that I have made are not really suitable for everyday viewing; they reside in different containers—like Tupperware and old oatmeal cylinders—in my side porch. On my fireplace mantel there are about twenty that I like. They stand in the corner and amuse me.

Other figures I have given to people that I like. If you have one, I hope it is a source of connection to me.

If you do not have one, and you would like one, let me know.

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