I have started a pottery class. This seems to be de rigeur for women of a certain age. Every time I log on to Instagram or Facebook I see that yet another of my school friends has taken up pottery. My mother has taken up pottery. Seventy percent of the women I know have taken up pottery. For a very long time I fought the urge, but the pull became too strong, and now I have succumbed.
I am very well known for my obsessions, not least because they tend to make their way into my novels. Every time my characters suddenly become jewelers, or candle-makers, or chicken-keepers, you can bet your life it’s because their creator was doing the same thing at the time of writing the novel.
My obsessions do not last long, but they are all-consuming, and I usually produce an astonishing body of work during the brief time they last. When I completed a silversmith course at our local art school, I set up a jewelry studio in the basement of our house, complete with professional work table, soldering equipment, every tool and machine you can think of, used it for one month, then never went in there again.
My candle-making occurred in our kitchen. For around six weeks, it became a candle-making factory, with trays of candles cooling on every surface, and the delicious smell of fig and gardenia filling the air. A few local shops sold the candles, and then I got bored, and moved on to something else. Someone recently told me how upset they were that I stopped, because the scent had become her favorite smell for her house.
And now it is pottery. I have fallen in love with lace-embossed and stamped platters, and as much fun as it is to source them online or visit pottery shops, I would always much rather try my hand at making them myself. The last few weeks have been spent scouring eBay for interesting remnants of lace, and buying authentic Indian stamps that arrive from India wrapped in canvas, the edges sealed with a stocking stitch, then sealed every inch with a proper embossed wax seal. The packaging itself is so gorgeous, it pains me every time to have to unwrap them.
Past experience has taught me that my obsessions are finite, and they are never too long for this world, which means I have to get as much done as possible while I am still interested.
The first lesson was last week. Everyone in the class stood around making a pinch pot. I took the teacher aside and explained I was there to make something specific, and would she mind if I did my own thing. She didn’t mind at all, and so, by the end of the class, everyone else had made one pinch pot, and I had made three platters and a rather nice bowl. I whirled around the studio as if I had taken amphetamines, while my friend, The Scientist, stood there and laughed, for she knows me very well.
This week I continued with three plates, and a mug. I attempted throwing a pot on the wheel, but I decided it would take me too long to become halfway decent, plus it hurt my back.
If you are a friend of mine, there is a massive spoiler in this piece, because I am highly likely to end up with a hundred or so platters and bowls, and you will all be getting them as gifts for the next couple of years. They will be the perfect present to hold all that jewelry I’ve been giving you for the past three…
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