On Saturday, the main reason we went to Mashiko was so that Leiya could show us how she uses the pottery wheel. In her school it sounds like she has unlimited access to the wheel and clay and she claims that she made more pieces of pottery than any one else in the school this year. She learned how to throw pieces (I'm not sure what this means) and she got very proficient in using glazes too.
In Mashiko, although there were many pottery "workshops" open to tourists, most of the activities were for painting pictures on ready made dishes and cups, and doing some freehand modeling with a lump of clay. That wasn't what Leiya wanted to do so we asked here and there for possibilities of using the wheel. Finally we found a place that would just let us play around for an hour. Leiya and I sat down at the wheels. (Leiya insisted I had to be part of this) Tetsu napped on the broken down sofa.
Well, all I can say is that I'll stick with patchwork! Pottery is not my forte! I kept pushing and smashing and I never could find the middle of the clay that whirled around under my hands. This is a lot harder than it looks! Obviously different forms of art strike different areas of the heart. In thinking about it I can see that I like to have an idea of what I'm making (a pattern) and I like to put in gradual amounts of time (piecing, sewing, quilting) and I like to see my progress as I go (piles of blocks, a row of quilting). With pottery, I couldn't figure out what I was making. Is this going to be a dish, a cup, a vase? (a blob?) I couldn't visualize it or figure out how to use my hands. I couldn't even tell if is was done or not! It didn't seem like a gradual process of effort. It just "came" to Leiya and she would declare that she'd finished. I have a feeling that this is the difference between an artist's heart and a laborer's heart. I create a lot of patchwork, but I don't think I'm very creative. The artist has a sense, an intuition, a vision of what he is making.
I don't think I explained that very well. It is not love or lack of love. As a potter loves creating and carressing the clay, I love making quilts and feeling the fabric and seeing the colors too. But it is a different process and I don't mean just different materials and tools. I tried to explain this to Tetsu and he pointed out that I've been doing patchwork for over 20 years and only spent one hour at the pottery wheel. It was sort of presumptious of me to think I could understand this art with only a few minutes experience.
Leiya did make us a bowl that will be fired in a month or two and unfortunately she won't be able to do any of the glazing herself but we did get a chance to watch her and have a slightly better understanding of what she does and loves.