The muse has been using clay instead of words to speak to me as of late. Symbols of plates, vases, bowls and mugs have replaced writings, save the one word “Jay” that I carve into the bottom of each of my creations.
I watch as seasoned potters record their work into clay-splattered notepads. Sometimes I jot down how many pots I throw in a session, but I can never find the piece of paper when I return to the Irvine Fine Arts Center three weeks later.
I didn’t think I would be at the wheel instead of the computer for as long as I have been. But playing with the clay has been as relaxing and freeing as getting good and muddy with my true muse (my five-year-old self). The voices quiet as the wheel spins and my mind unwinds to stillness.
Thank the Goddess, some writer long ago spilled the beans that self-incrimination is really a tactic of motivation and now we are all free to admit the neurosis and crack on.
For me, the best part of creating is to be in the blissful, timelessness of the muse’s spell.
I feel the more forgiving, malleable clay has replaced the precision of the pencil because I’ve needed time to heal. I wish I could process faster. But the truth is; I just can’t. Five years of consecutive deaths of most every male elder, a job, a home, a community, a passion in one devastating hag’s swoop has taken its grim toll on my free spirit. Effervescent and resilient, I tried to pretend it didn’t matter. But like Eeyore’s grey cloud, a balloon of tears loomed ever near and I only felt safe enough to let a tiny stream out – like a gossamer strand of liquid emotion.
Typical and traditional Capricorn goat, I scratched away at the mountain, refusing to look at losses and hold only a vision of a bright future, a peak to stand atop. Each new treasure of creature comfort was hard fought, like the two weeks I saved for a $9 potato peeler. I celebrated the day I bought two ice cube trays on a whim at Target, as proof there was some fat on the bone.
Nearly a year at my job and I’m strong enough to allow tears come of their own volition. Of course, my job is at no ordinary place, but the business venture of two artists, living as close to the edge as they dare – consistently reminding themselves that this ragged edge is home.
I have always cared far too much of what other people have thought of me and somehow made that to mean that I wasn’t an artist. True artists are bohemians, I told myself: unconventional and untroubled by society’s disapproval and proud of their difference. Truth is, I am all those things and like most bohemians, though we may be gypsy wanderers, tend to gravitate toward each other, forming communities of outcasts, artists, musicians, activists, poets – a home for the roaming heart and soul.