Beautiful film. I love seeing the process and the rhythm of pressing the block – almost like a song.
Tag Archives: hands
tangible things I touch include water, clay, paper, computer keys, fabric, dishes, laundry, kids, hair, food, chickens, dirt, door handles, steering wheel, bike handles, phone, mailbox door, bleach wipes… these hands are not pampered, lathered or manicured, they are hardworking, agents of change. I am proud of the nicks, dings, and strength from use. May my hands be ever ready to serve, share, create, embrace and hold.
Not to hide their work but adorn their beauty, I have made my first set of rings which I will be posting in my etsy shop. I hope your hands tell such a story and create beauty in a meaningful way.
Yet you, LORD, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
painting, meetings, rain, snow, sleet, thunder, lightning, hail, snow day, spring bulbs, egg dying, family visiting, new windows, late nights, easter dress shopping, meetings, food, laughter, Isaiah study, moving furniture, new carpet, brown rice cream, 6.5 mile run, meetings, play dates, and baby chicks.
Meet molly, sally, sweetie girl, speedy, peepers, and runt!
This is a sweet little photo from a visit with my mother last week. I know these hands, they have touched me in so many ways. I recognize them almost as if they were my own. How beautiful it is for me to reflect on them and see them with another little pair that I cherish so much.
* cradled me when I was a baby
* tied bows on all my easter dresses
* colored in countless pictures with me as a child
* packed my lunch every morning before school
* hugged me and held me on sad days
* patted me on the back when I did a good job
* expertly french braided and brushed my hair
* stirred rice pilaf in the electric skillet
* sewed us clothes
* picked up clothes off the floor and folded countless loads of laundry
* drove us to school, dance, swim practice, roller skating, soccer…
* waved goodbye when I left for college
* held my hand tight when they walked me down the aisle on my wedding day
* wiped away tears after my grandma passed away
* traveled to Africa to hold my first-born child
* wrote down many memories and notes on all my school papers
* make pink princess cookies with my two babes
I love these hands, but even more so the heart that moves them.
Can you spot all the pending projects in this photo?
Winter = indoor projects. It seems like between A and I we have quite a few. These are just a few spotted in our basement. yikes!
1. New pottery Bench - done!
2. Sand bunk beds and restain a darker color – in progress
3. Replace bathroom and bedroom doors with vintage oak doors, trim to size
4. Refinish chair and re-cover with better fabric
5. Find better fabric
6. Clean basement
At the Potter’s House
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
Then the word of the LORD came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.
Jeremiah 18: 1-7
Often I have people ask when throwing a pot on the wheel, If I mess up this pot can I squish it back down and start over?
Well, can you use the clay again?
Yes, but first it needs to be reclaimed.
People are alway taken back by the process, misled by simple phrase “so the potter formed it into another pot.” The simplicity leaves out the steps of changing, waiting and pressure involved in reclaiming the marred clay.
To reclaim means to bring into or return to a suitable condition for use. Clay is an organic body, when touched by human hands or by the elements its physical state, its moisture, and its elasticity is changed. If working on the wheel it may become to wet or stretched out to continue, if left on a board it may become too dry or cracked to use. There is a whole spectrum of wet and dry stages.
All through Israel’s history the people have spanned the spectrum like the clay, drawing close to God and drifting far from Him. Nevertheless, the Lord always retained a remnant, a small line that he could accomplish his purposes and promises through. Reminding us that the potter can take clay at any state and reclaim it to use for his purposes.
To reclaim the clay it is necessary to obtain an even moisture and consistency through the whole piece so that it can be readied for use. The key is time and patience. If you rush it, it will be a sloppy mess; if you wait too long, it will be too stiff. In essence you must pause until just the right moment.
Reclaiming clay is time consuming. Not many potters enjoy this process, I know artists who throw their clay away saying it is cheaper to buy new clay than waste their time wedging. Many dream of a pug machine, a device that compresses the wet clay and simply removes the air. But wedging (think kneading dough) goes a step further, it gets all the little clay particles moving in the same direction, it incorporates the wet areas and restores the dry edges, and it exposes air pockets. When properly wedged it makes the entire body stronger and less prone to cracks.
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
The longer that the potter wedges, the more consistent the ingredients are throughout the lump of clay. The uniqueness to wedging by hand is the clay warms in response to the touch. How neat to think that as we are held by the Potter our entire being warms throughout. I love the picture of this process of redemption, by the Lord’s hands He works His clay through timing, energy and personal attention.
Have you experienced the touch of redemption in your life?
Are there any hard particles or foreign bodies that keep you from being an even consistency to be used by the Potter?
In what areas have you felt the warmth of the Potter’s hand?
Are you willing to be transformed by the Potter into a new vessel as seems best to Him?
the great owl and the raven will nest there.
God will stretch out over Edom
the measuring line of chaos
We studied these passages in our BSF lesson last week, this struck me in the notes “The measuring line depicts the act of marking out the land in plots for occupation and ownership while the plumb line points to the fact that all will be assessed and compared with the true and real. God, like a master builder who uses a measuring tape and a plumb line to ensure buildings are true and square, will execute the same attention to detail both in building things up and in breaking them down for destruction.”
I have worked with wood a few times in my days, it is not my favorite material because I can never quite get it right. I love the look and the smell of freshly cut wood but lack the skills to transform it. The artist’s craft and patience has to be exact, and their tools sharp to obtain a building that is square or a product that looks good. I have chosen not wood but clay, as to me it always has seemed more forgiving and it’s responsive to the potter’s touch.
The roundness is important; before a piece can be thrown/shaped on the wheel the clay must be readied. All the air bubbles wedged out, hard particles removed, and a good consistent feel through the whole lump of clay. On the wheel the lump must be completely centered. This comes by consistent pressure on the clay, your tools which in this case are your hands must be working together. Once centered the potter must use a plumb line to drop a hole, this too must be exact to keep the lump completely centered. The art is the connection between the mind, the heart and the hands, as the potters touch transforms each lump of clay into a unique vessel. Even if he repeats a similar form, each piece holds its uniqueness and intimate touch. Every vessel is made by the conception of an artist’s hand.
The potter envisions his work of art, centers the clay and opens the hole by pulling the clay outward. This begins the process of stretching the clay. From this point on it can’t go back, the clay particles begin to loosen making the clay pliable to the potter’s touch. Water is added to lubricate, reducing friction and further softening the clay. He begins to pull the clay by again adding a steady and even pressure not outward this time but upwards. It is important for the newly formed pot to stay completely centered as this rotation keeps it workable and strong.
It is sometimes necessary to scrape clay from the bottom or trim the rim at the top to keep the pot centered. After reaching the desired height, he begins to shape it as it seems fit. Overtime the potter creates a signature for himself. A body of work that brings him delight and satisfaction, an example of his skill and consistency. If the clay is overworked or thrown off center the pot collapses, the potter will remove it from the wheel and toss it into a bucket to be reused another day.
This is the ideal way to make a vessel. An experienced potter will be able to accomplish these steps in a matter of minutes but it takes him years and practice to achieve these skills. Along the way you learn little tricks, how to reshape, trim or alter your pot if you don’t like how it looks. You learn how to redeem it if it is slightly off centered or has a uneven side. In fact you learn how to mask the imperfections that keep it from being true and real. This can result in a very clever and deceivingly round pot, but such facts cannot be hidden from its maker.
This has caused a great reflection in me… In learning how to throw pottery on the wheel, one learns the art, the motion, the process of being real and true alongside learning the way to cover, conceal and correct.
Are you aware of the makers intimate touch on your life? The uniqueness of your vessel and the purposes of why you have been made?
Have you measured your life by what is true and real?
The same plumb line that is used to make the clay into a vessel is used in the judgement of it. The creators workmanship is real and good, his body of work must remain consistent to maintain his signature. He charges us with the task of remaining centered in his hands and moving upwards. Are you being moldable and pliable, responsive to the potters touch?
Is the living water being added daily to resist friction and soften your soul?
Are there things in your life that are off center and cause spinning that is increasingly out of control?
Are you bringing delight and satisfaction to your maker? Or are there things that need to given up, thrown in the slop bucket in order to not compromise the body of work as a whole?
Isaiah 40: 28-31
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Amen Jesus. I thank your for these words and visual pictures of you hand in our creation. May these thoughts be pleasing to you O God and bring glory and advancement to your kingdom now and forevermore.
I had a great day in my studio today! I was so excited to get back to work after Christmas but for some reason dragged my feet, from jumping in. I am really trying to push my comfort zone and work some new forms. Each time something emerges it just makes me want to spend more time in the mud.
I am trilled about this one… we use a ton of lemon in our cooking but it would be great for any kind of citrus. When the clay hardens a bit, I will add a handle opposite the spout, trim the bottom and carve into the juicer dome. This was my first try, so I am excited it turned out so great. I think I will try a few more this weekend.
I made my own little faux-bois tool today using a plastic tube and a glue gun. It turned out to be just the right depth to press into clay. These little pendants are 1.5 inches in diameter and I am excited about the bib/collar necklace to the right. I can’t wait to see how these transform with glaze.
What do you expect to be doing when you are 104 years old?
Few people make it to that age must less use the time to accomplish what Eva Zeisel has. She declares herself a “maker of useful things.” Her forms are often abstractions of the natural world and human relationships. Currently, she continues to design furniture as well as glass and ceramic objects, like her most recent 101 design and her Century dishware at crate and barrel. As an artist and a woman I find her life and history so inspiring.
A pioneer in the ceramic world, she studied painting at the Budapest Royal Academy, desiring to pursue a more practical profession she apprenticed herself with a guild of potters. She built a career with ceramic manufactures in Germany and served as the artistic director in the Soviet ceramics industry before being imprisoned as a political prisoner under Stalin. Moving to the US to escape Nazi rule in Austria, Zeizel further developed her craft and taught one of the first courses on industrial design at Pratt University. She also was granted the first one woman show at the Museum of Modern Art.
What a legacy she has built! I love this picture of her, that you can see her hands so clearly. Hands that display such a story of making, creating, building, age, grace, and movement. May my hands be used as beautifully as hers.