Wood-fired Wednesday – #29

In honor of my travels today to Mississippi for the Gulf Coast Clay Conference, I am bringing back Wood-Fired Wednesday for a day.

Terry Osborne

Advertisements
Posted in Wood-fired Pottery | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Muddy Week

This year it has been a struggle to get into the studio.  Or to get muddy at all.

That is starting to change.

I spent the entire weekend in the studio watching master potter Lorna Meaden make her exquisite pots. For me, Lorna is one of those potter’s whose pots make me wonder “how did she do that?”  I love that. I love the element of mystery and surprise in her pots. So finally getting to watch her in action was a great treat.

As with most workshops I attend, I had several aha moments.  My favorite was a handle she made, that she doesn’t even make any more, but which switched some lights on for me as how I might resolve some issues in my own pots that I have been struggling with.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This is why I love workshops.  I have no desire to make someone else’s pots.  But I love learning.  And those aha moments are priceless.

Speaking of workshops, tomorrow I get on a plane and travel to Mississippi. I am super excited about it.  I love teaching, but I so rarely demonstrate my own work. This will be a treat to reveal some of my own “secrets.”  I know many people think my pots are entirely handmade.  Ah, the surprises they are in for.

Of course, I have some nerves.  There are 60 participants in all, split evenly between Randy Brodnax and myself.  That’s a big crowd for me.  Watching Lorna struggle with her own pots while trying to talk and throw this weekend, made me feel so much better.  I only hope that I can be the pro she was and save them so gracefully.

See you down South,

About the Author: Laurie Erdman has been making pots since 2003.  She discovered the joy of mud when seeking a stress release from her day job as an attorney.  Over the years she knew it helped ground her, but not more so than when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  It was then that she realized how pottery had taught her some powerful spiritual and life lessons. In addition to designing a line of nature-inspired pottery, she teaches pottery and meditation, and helps others learn the healing powers of clay. Laurie lives in Arlington, Virginia, makes pots at the Art League of Alexandria, fires her pots at Baltimore Clayworks, and enjoys spending time with her husband, her Italian Greyhound Skippy and helping people with chronic illness thrive.
Posted in Making Pots | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Making Pitchers and the Role of Muscle Memory

In a few short weeks, I will be getting on a plane and heading to Gulfport, Mississippi to present at the Gulf Coast Clay Conference.  Between now and then I have to pack and ship pots, determine what tools I am going to bring and remember how to throw pots.

You see its been a while since I have regularly been in the studio.  Time has just not permitted it.  But I have been sneaking in when I can and going through my repetiore of pots, seeing if I remember what I am doing.  Teapots, check. Bowls, check.  Tumblers, check. Flower buckets, check.

Last week, however, I attempted pitchers.  I make two types of pitchers.  My dancing pitcher that is really more decorative than anything else.  But it’s one of my favorite forms.  However, it is a challenge to throw and get the proportions right.

The other pitcher is what I refer to as my tulip pitcher, because that was the inspiration. That’s also a tricky form because of proportions and then the measuring and cutting. As I get ready for the clay conference, I was dreading these forms. Would I even make them?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Last week I sat at the wheel to see if I could shake loose that muscle memory and remember how to throw these complicated forms. I tell my students, especially the beginners, that there is no substitute for time on the stool.  Your muscles have to learn a whole new way of working. And once they learn it, they have to have it drilled in their little muscle brains.

So last week was a test of how well my muscles had learned those forms, even though they hadn’t made them in months.  To my delight and surprise, the forms came together pretty well.  Not as rusty as I would have thought.

Now to go pack pots for shipping.  Never my favorite project, but I love sharing my work with others.

Staying muddy,

About the Author: Laurie Erdman has been making pots since 2003.  She discovered the joy of mud when seeking a stress release from her day job as an attorney.  Over the years she knew it helped ground her, but not more so than when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  It was then that she realized how pottery had taught her some powerful spiritual and life lessons. In addition to designing a line of nature-inspired pottery, she teaches pottery and meditation, and helps others learn the healing powers of clay. Laurie lives in Arlington, Virginia, makes pots at the Art League of Alexandria, fires her pots at Baltimore Clayworks, and enjoys spending time with her husband, her Italian Greyhound Skippy and helping people with chronic illness thrive.
Posted in Making Pots | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Fighting Fatigue – Why Isn’t There a Couch in the Studio?

Last week saw me making more prototypes for my buddha bowls, a few teapots and a flower bucket (as I call them).  The humidity has been high enough that pots don’t want to dry.  That delayed trimming by several days.

Ceramic basket

Since I trim my pots pretty wet, I didn’t let some dampness dissuade me too much.  The bowls survived, but one of the 3 teapots did not.  Ah, when will I learn?

It took me until this last Sunday to finish assembling and slipping the pots.  That left me with a couple of hours of wheel time just before my afternoon class.  But I couldn’t do it.  All I wanted to do was sleep. And that’s when I wondered, why isn’t there a couch in the studio?  How delicious would that be? Of course, how inviting it would be covered in dust is another thing.

With no couch available, I found a comfortable chair and caught a few zzz’s, and then went outside to catch some rays.  Not exactly the most productive pottery making time, but I am happy to report that I am dreaming of pots again.  Yes, literally.  It has been at least 6 months since I have had a dream of pots or a studio.  They have  returned, and for that I am grateful.

About the Author: Laurie Erdman has been making pots since 2003.  She discovered the joy of mud when seeking a stress release from her day job as an attorney.  Over the years she knew it helped ground her, but not more so than when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  It was then that she realized how pottery had taught her some powerful spiritual and life lessons. In addition to designing a line of nature-inspired pottery, she teaches pottery and meditation, and helps others learn the healing powers of clay. Laurie lives in Arlington, Virginia, makes pots at the Art League of Alexandria, fires her pots at Baltimore Clayworks, and enjoys spending time with her husband, her Italian Greyhound Skippy and helping people with chronic illness thrive.
Posted in Making Pots | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Support Me As I Ride Beyond the Beltway: Bike MS

Laurie Erdman

One month before awareness of symptoms

It’s that time of year again.  I’m getting back on my bike, well at least trying to, in preparation for Bike Beyond the Beltway, my local Bike MS fund-raising ride.

If you are new to my blog, you may not now know why I ride.  For you veterans who know my story, please indulge me, or go to the bottom of the page and donate now.

In September 2009, just one month after this picture was taken on my biking trip around Lake Champlain, I started experiencing some odd sensory symptoms in my left arm pit. Truthfully, I ignored them.  My husband confirmed that my armpit wasn’t swollen like it felt.  A mammogram confirmed no cancer. So I went on with my life, trying to get my budding pottery career off the ground.

Then one night in November, the tingling that had occasionally appeared went wild. It felt like ants had attacked my armpit. It was enough to wake me up – literally and figuratively. The next day I made an appointment with my doctor.  She was stumped and sent me to a neurologist.  By the end of December, after blood tests and a 2-hour long MRI, my life had changed in four words – “you have multiple sclerosis”.

I was the one for that hour of that day.  You see, one person every hour, hears those words.  Those words are then followed up with “there is no cure,” “sometimes it is aggressive, but we don’t know why”, “we have drugs now. they are all self-injectables.”  And the words go on and on.  They blend together until you walk out of the office, confused, tired and scared shitless.

Laurie Erdman

17-months post-symptoms; 13 months post-diagnosis

What follows are a list of choices. Do you tell people? If so, who?  Do you take the drugs? If so, which one?  Do you try one of the MS diets? And if so, which one? (Can you really give up cheese and bread?)

And then there are the choices that aren’t yours.  Will the disease progress?  Will it inhibit you from doing the things you love? For me that last one struck fear.  I had just become an associate artist at the Art League of Alexandria.  I was hoping to become a full-time potter.  Would I be able to make pots?  And would I be able to make pots in the way I wanted – spending long hard hours stoking a wood-kiln.  If you hate uncertainty – don’t get MS or it will become your new best friend.

There is no doubt that clay has helped support me through my diagnosis and transition to a new and gentler life.  I have written about that both in this blog and in the current issue of Studio Potter.  I sought refuge in the studio.  As a result, my work got better. I think it also helped me get better.

I am grateful that the disease has not progressed in me. I’m grateful that my last MRI is spectacular – fewer and smaller lesions than the first one. I believe the choices I made – diet, exercise, stress management, attitude change, change of jobs, and more studio time – have allowed me to thrive.  Since being diagnosed, I have fired two wood-kilns.  I’ve lost 40 pounds.  I re-discovered the fit and athletic body of my 20’s. (See the post-diagnosis picture of me in St. John). I have made a few hundred sassy pots.

But others aren’t so lucky.  So between making pots and coaching others to thrive, I ride Bike MS because I can. I ride for all those who can’t. I ride because the MS Society not only funds research for a cure, but it supports those not as fortunate as I, and those who need financial, physical and emotional help.

Please help support me and others as we strive to live a life beyond MS. Click on the box below to donate what you can.

Thank you,

Laurie

Bike MS Laurie ErdmanAbout the Author: Laurie Erdman has been making pots since 2003.  She discovered the joy of mud when seeking a stress release from her day job as an attorney.  Over the years she knew it helped ground her, but not more so than when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  It was then that she realized how pottery had taught her some powerful spiritual and life lessons. In addition to designing a line of nature-inspired pottery, she teaches pottery and meditation, and helps others learn the healing powers of clay. Laurie lives in Arlington, Virginia, makes pots at the Art League of Alexandria, fires her pots at Baltimore Clayworks, and enjoys spending time with her husband, her Italian Greyhound Skippy and helping people with chronic illness thrive.

Posted in Multiple Sclerosis | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment