Friday, 12 July 2013

Living the Good Life

A lady at Potfest Scotland said she envied my lifestyle.
"Doing what I wanted and making beautiful pots".
I suppose the grass is always greener somewhere else, but I have no complaints.


I've tried a lot of things. Working in a pie factory, that wasn't to be envied.
I ran an arts and crafts program at summer camp in the beautiful Laurentian mountains in Canada for a couple of summers. That was pretty special.
But most of my life I designed, project managed and built retail stores. There was a Levi Store, somewhere in most parts of the world that had my fingerprints on it. Some of them in major cities were flagship stores and could be two years in their gestation. That had it's moments although I wouldn't recommend all those hours spent in airports and nights spent in bland and lonely hotel rooms. Making pots was relegated to odd weekends when I managed to be at home.

I used to be a company director, drive a big BMW, wear sharp suits and get invited to dinner parties.
Now I am a potter, drive a van, wear jeans and T shirts. Most times I am regarded with reserve and the invites have all dried up.
Making things with your hands is way down the social scale and I don't miss those dinner parties at all. Paper plates and Marks and Spencer canap├ęs. The men would talk flash cars and salary scales, the women shoes and handbags. Most of the potters that I now know are more worldly than that and can discuss on a variety of topics, have led interesting lives and are not held by the need to buy brands and fashion statements or wear the right label.

Being a potter is more than the idyllic vision of an artisan, sitting throwing pots all day. There are many skills required, some take many years to master and if it comes easy, then your are probably not trying hard enough. There are disappointments and sometimes failures and the beautiful pots are often hard won.


Pull a carrot from the soft earth, wipe off the dirt and bite into it. The taste is light years away from the scrubbed things, sweating in plastic bags from the supermarket. Just taste the difference.

Making handmade pots is as near to the experience of that carrot as I can hope for.
I have no need for that big car or sharp suit. I certainly don't miss those 5 am starts to get to Heathrow to catch a plane to San Francisco. Arrive at 3pm and do a days work after a ten hour flight. The dinner party guests thought that would be pretty cool and envied my lifestyle of international jet setting and glamorous projects.

Give me a bag of clay or a kiln glowing at cone ten any day.

The lady at Potfest was probably right, it is a lifestyle to be envied.