The Painful Beauty of Inspiration

Let me make a confession. I hate trimming pots. Trimming pots is what you do to them after throwing them on the wheel. You let them dry up only a bit, clean them up, re-center them in the wheel, and use instruments to cut into the clay and make a foot on each pot. You end up with a bunch of this:

which is really annoying because all of this semi dry clay has to be rehydrated (turned into sludge in water), allowed to dry and then wedged (beaten to within an inch of its life) into a usable form. All of this, that is, if you do not own a clay pug, which reworks the clay for you, but costs an arm and a leg. I, needless to say, do not own a clay pug.

But trimming is a must, so that you end up with a pretty little foot like this:
Yesterday I threw about 20 pots, most of them latte cups, which is my new favorite form. It's a tall cylindrical cup, about 6 inches high and is also ideal for tea. No handle. Handles are my second least favorite thing next to trimming. Plus my cups with handles don't look like my cups. I can't even relate to them after I have made them.
In addition to the cups, I made a few bowls. All in all a very productive day.
Let me add something here. I rarely throw on center. I can, mind you, but I rarely do. It takes so much focus for me to throw completely centered pots that I lose all of the fun, end up straining my neck and back. So my pieces are all kind of, well, imperfect.
Which is fine. Until you try to trim up tall cylindrical pieces that were not thrown on center. You have to get the pot recentered upside down onto the pottery wheel. Doing this with a narrow, non-centered tall piece is like trying to balance the Leaning Tower of Pisa on a quarter. I have had pots fly across the room during trimming. I really hate trimming. It makes me cranky.
So this morning, as I was trying to get the first cup centered, something happened. A strange noise came out from under the fly wheel. Metal against metal. I went down, underneath to check it out. Only one problem - I forgot to shut of the motor. As I checked the mechanism of the wheel I know like the back of my hand, it caught my index finger in the mechanism. I yanked back and out came my finger tip, nail intact, but skin completely missing, from the top knuckle right up to the tip, on the front of the finger.
Ouch. I am clearly typing this with nine fingers. But I want to get this story out.
I ran into the house, packed it up, and waited for the pain to come. Micha drove me to the pharmacy and they packed me up with antibiotic, scab forming salve and finger tip covers. Six hundred milligrams of ibuprophen later, I wrapped a plastic glove around my hand and went back into the studio.
See, in this heat, I needed to get those cups done today or I could kiss yesterday's work goodbye. Even packing the cups in plastic wrap would not keep them from drying out too quickly in the hundred degree heat we will have for the next ten days.
But I was in way too much pain to trim those babies. Way too much pain. So I listened to my inner potter.
Don't trim, she said. Just smooth out. You did a good job throwing them yesterday, they are not bottom heavy and you just need to smooth them out.
So that's what I did. The bottoms look like this (lower right cup in the first picture):
...and the finished greenware look like this:
Natural, organic forms that feel so good in the hand. Much nicer than if I had spent hours (hours!) trying to center and trim them. See what a little injury can make you to? It can make you rethink things. It all depends what you do with the situation at hand.
Even the bowls -- I did a minimum trim, then altered them using a piece of wood. Soft, beautiful, organic forms. Irregular. Incredibly pleasant to the touch.
Now I will focus on the bisque firing and glazes that might work with these natural forms. After I take a nap with my hand in the air.