The Last Firing?

Laurie Erdman potteryTomorrow we are loading the kiln for my long delayed wood-firing.  I’ve got a lot of pots and am really excited about the results.  However, there is a cloud looming over this firing.  I am wondering if this will be my last firing. You see, I no longer have a place to bisque fire (the initial firing for those non-clay fans). I wonder what is a potter without a kiln?

The Back Story

In 2010, I found refuge in the studio, as I wrote about in Studio Potter and this blog.  Being with the mud helped sustain me as I absorbed the news of being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Ironically, the time I spent making pots that year gave me time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.  A question I could no longer delay.  There was a time when all I wanted to do was make pots.  In 2009 and 2010, I did everything I could to make that happen.

But in those many hours at the wheel, something shifted.  It had nothing to about the pots.  But as I changed my life in response to my diagnosis, I wondered if trying to make a living from pots was wise.  As you may know, making pots is physical work, especially wood-firing.  And it doesn’t exactly cover health care.  So I questioned my future as I made pot after pot.  What was supposed to do?

At the same time, I was changing my diet. My long-standing passion for nutrition was beginning to take shape in my own body. The results with my own health were so astounding that I began to wonder if I should share my knowledge with others.

At the end of 2010, after my last wood-firing, I enrolled in school. I had realized at that point that pottery was not my future, at least not as a profession.  I remember being drawn to help others in college.  At the time, I answered that call by becoming a lawyer.  The call had returned, but this time as a health coach.  Honestly, I realized the world didn’t need another half-baked potter, or another lawyer for that matter.

As a result, I spent far less time in the studio in 2011.  I was studying, holding down a corporate job, launching a coaching practice and trying to keep my health in tip top shape.  The prior year I made over 300 pots (not bad for a part-timer).  But in 2011, I made just over 100 (actually not bad for all that I had going on).  Unfortunately not everyone in my community studio understood the shift in my priorities.

Where’s the Love?

Coming to the studio in 2011 was far less pleasant than in 2010. I still loved making pots, but I much preferred working with no one else around. The connection I had had with my studio mates had been broken when pots were no longer my singular focus.

The energy of studio had also changed for me.  I wasn’t getting what I needed there.    Some community studios are tight.  They socialize. They hang out.  They bring casseroles when someone is sick.  This was not that kind of group.  Maybe it’s the fact that so many of us are also professionals with busy day jobs.  But the fact is, closeness wasn’t fostered, and maybe even discouraged.  Someone could be gone for a month and no one would ever check to see how they were doing.  With so much going on in my life, I needed support.  I had to look elsewhere. (Please note, I adore every one of my now former studio mates.  I just needed more out of the community.)

So as summer was winding down I began to contemplate leaving.  The challenge was how would I bisque fire my pots.  While my home “studio” had a wheel, I didn’t have a working kiln. I do have a used kiln sitting in my garage, but it has yet to be tested.  I am grateful for my friend who is patiently waiting for payment while I get the funds to run the electrical to my garage so I can test the kiln.  But having quit my day job to pursue coaching full-time, extra funds haven’t been available for that investment.  What’s a potter without a kiln?

Then three weekends ago, after talking with a studio mate, I was 80% in the camp of staying and trying to work things out.  Maybe if I put more into the studio, it would give more back. And bisque firing would remain a non-issue.

The Universe Had Another Idea

I had clearly not heeded the message from the Universe.  The studio energy I had felt during 2011 came to a head a few days later in a silly misunderstanding that no question I was supposed to leave.  So last weekend I finished glazing for this firing and moved all of my stuff to my basement “studio.”  Laurie Erdman

Once this kiln is unloaded and prepared for sale, I will be a potter without a kiln.  How does a potter not have a kiln?

It’s a Sale!

Well, like all potters do, I need to raise the funds. How does a potter raise funds?  They sell pots.

So from today through September 30th 2011, everything in my Etsy shop is 40% off with this coupon code: KILNSALE.

Any help you can provide me to getting my pottery mojo back is greatly appreciated.

You may wonder why bother since pottery is not my profession?  Because it sustains me.  And because my pots bring joy to others.  That’s enough for me.


About Claytastic

Health coach. Writer. Teacher. Artist. Living an amazing life with MS. Interested in bringing peace and beauty into people's lives.
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8 Responses to The Last Firing?

  1. Ken Shipley says:

    I have an electric for sale and know where a few more are. I will deliver.
    My cell: 931-216-1832.
    take care,

  2. I am so sorry to hear your news. It is too bad your potter community was not there for you. I have followed your Chronic Wellness blog since the beginning. I am sorry that you wont be blogging for Sprit of Clay & wont be potting anymore.

    • Karen,

      Thanks for your kind words. And no worries. And I will still blog here. Just not with a lot of frequency. Even if I just throw and recycle for a while like Ruthanne Tudball did, I will keep my hands dirty.


  3. Drat Laurie….

    What you are doing as a wellness coach is so important. So I don’t worry that you will lack fulfillment in your creative sharing side. But when you say “Honestly, I realized the world didn’t need another half-baked potter” I have to disagree. The world needs more handmade carefully crafted pots of every stripe. And yours have been an incredible contribution to the beauty of the world. I have enjoyed peering over your shoulder throughout your creative journey, and I hope that you find time and circumstances that will allow you to continue. How the folks at that studio failed to find encouragement for you staggers belief. You have such a powerful vision and a strong voice about what you are doing, they should be falling over themselves to make it happen for you.

    So, my thoughts are with you. Good luck in all your endeavors. I’m rooting for you!

    • Carter,

      Thank you so much. I know the work I am doing is so important. The world needs it. So no regrets. I’ve been thinking more that I will spend the next year throwing and recycling so I can really focus on my throwing skills without being burdened by the thoughts of finished product.

      Ok, off to load the kiln. I’m excited to see some of the newer work come to life.


  4. Glad to hear that. You should check out individual potters in your area. Some one may be willing to fire your pieces. I don’t have a kiln either but I belong to the StonyBrook University Ceramic/Craft Center which is run for the students & community people. I fire & glaze my pieces there. Great group of potters. When I was in the hospital some of my friends from there came to see me. Always asking what they could do for me etc. There is talk of the University shutting down the program when the building we are in is torn down in about 4 years. So far all I hear is rumors but I have made potter friends who have kilns & I can fire with them. I do hope you luck.

  5. Connie says:

    Hi Laurie
    I have been so behind in my blog reading the past few months. How did the sale go? How is your quest for a kiln coming. I hope all is well!!


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