I am not a runner. I much prefer cycling as an outdoor pursuit. But recently a friend was describing to me how she uses the popular Couch to 5K running app as a training tool to reach her distance goal. She noted that the app has been very helpful in breaking down the process into simple steps—sounds familiar. For those using the app, the dream is running a 5K race with ease and enjoyment, so the creators of the app use a step-by-step process to help you achieve the goal. Clever of them. Whether you are trying to run a 5K, a marathon, or throw a cylinder taller than 12 inches in three quick pulls, we all understand we must follow a process. We do the practice, or we don’t achieve the dream. And any shortcuts rarely, if ever, deliver what they promise.
Although we all fall victim to shortcuts in various aspects of our lives—health, financial readiness, home upkeep, even exercise—we potters seldom shy away from an all-day project that keeps us in the studio well past our intended departure time. In fact, we love to string several days of intense practice together. More often than not, it’s the process that keeps us coming back. Toiling away at the wheel, carving repeat patterns, and fussing with knobs and handles is the dream as far as we are concerned. If ceramics was simply unloading kilns and marveling at the final product, over time we would tire of standing at the finish line without ever having enjoyed the scenery of the race or the camaraderie of our fellow runners.
All this brings me to telling you about the latest Pottery Making Illustrated readership contest. In keeping with the premise of the magazine we are asking readers to not only send us finished images of their finest work, but also a few images of how they create one aspect of that work, such as a handle, a sgraffito pattern, a dripless spout, or a hand-painted narrative. Selected entries will be featured in the January/February print and online issues. Scan the QR code below to apply.
And if you need a bit of inspiration before photographing your own process, check out Andrew Clark’s match striker, Jan Schachter’s woven platter, Sam Momeyer’s colored-clay surfaces, and Molly Walter’s intricately carved jars on the following pages. Happy making, and running, if that’s your thing too!