Sunday, April 11, 2010

Zen Cracks

"Ring the bells that can still ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in." -Leonard Cohen

I've been taking a beginning ceramics class for the first time since mid-January. It is totally outside my zone of comfort and familiarity, and I've alternated between loving it and hating it. But it is full of lessons, joys, and much about myself as the material of clay itself.

This was one of the pieces I was most excited about. It was a platter, and I was excited because I was focusing more on the decorative rather than structural aspect; to "draw" on the clay with a fine, sharp needle tool felt easy, relaxing, enjoyable for me. I was confident that this one would be a success and be very "me."

And yet...there is always the glazing and the firing to contend with. Entirely different processes. So I was surprised when I found this finished piece to have a huge crack right down the center of it. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but my best guess is that I dug too hard into the clay with the needle tool on that line, and it weakened it to the point it could not withstand the heat.

So of course, I was disappointed. But then I remembered the words my instructor uttered on the first class, urging us not to get attached to any one piece, and not to get upset when things break or collapse (because they will)..."just make more." And so I am.

I'm also happy to see this as an opportunity to befriend my personal imperfections, of which there are many. And to embrace "Beginner's Mind" again and again as I try new things. Because that's where the light is.


  1. I wonder...what if you called it a wall sculpture instead of a functional platter, would there still be a crack?
    Here is to new processes of many kinds.

  2. I like the new name better, although the last was quite clever Arlene...

  3. I love the platter and would totally use it as such. It is amazing- do not stop with the clay.Keep going!!!

  4. I made 6 objects at "camp" this summer. I was HEARTBROKEN when I picked them up after the firing, because someone else's piece had blown up in the kiln and sort of ruined 5/6 of mine! But, of course, I got over it.
    Your piece is definitely art for the wall. Complete the crack, set the two pieces side by side with a proper space between them....