Sunday, December 7, 2014

It's a Tactile World Out There

This is an example of the Edgefield jug.

There is a beautiful piece of Edgeville pottery that Edward left here for "safe keeping". Edward was moving and was afraid it might be damaged. I only glanced at in passing on an errand this afternoon. A thought came to me that it was over 200 years old. I immediately wondered what the potter felt like as his fingers came off the lip. What sensation did his finger feel as it came off the clay 200 years ago. Did he admire it, or was it just another pot.

I know what my finger feels like as I shut down the wheel. The process of making a pot takes one out of the intellect, and into a tactile world. One feels the pot. I always analyze the the bottom thick enough, wish I could have gotten the little tuning mark out of the transition pull with the chip. All in all, it's alright. Next ball. I think all potters think somewhat alike as the finish a pot.

Everything we make comes ultimately to a close at the end of our fingers, or hands. Making a pot, fishing for dinner, pickin apples, flying an airplane in for a landing, playing an instrument, taking a photograph, cooking a meal. 

A few days ago I found pieces of what I call the "streaming pot" in the last row of garlic in the bottom. I apparently plowed it up a native American pot, probably from the Woodland Period, when I established the new ground a couple years ago. I find pieces of this pot when I plant garlic; cool, brown pieces of clay. Someone made that clay pot, probably on the premises. There is still a clay vein in the creek beside the garlic field.

 The first year the pieces were bigger. They get smaller every year. I suppose, as I plow the ground,  they get pulled down the row. It's why I call it mu streaming pot, sorta' like the tail of a comet in reverse. I found a long stream of sherds as I planted  I picked out one of them out of my hand, licked it, wiped it with my handkerchief. There, in the bright winter sun, was a faint, but distinct, fingerprint of the maker on that piece.. Time slowed down for a minute as I looked into that fingerprint. I have fingerprints. I make pottery. So did this person with similar hands a thousand years ago!

I put the sherds back on the garlic row in which I have found them for the past 4 years.  That's where they were more than likely made, used and discarded. I kept the fingerprint.

That pot was part of someone's life. Whoever made it lived much differently than I do, but the tactile feeling as I looked at that piece of pot made me smile. It is, indeed, a tactile world. I could feel that pot in my hands.

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