St Lawrence Pottery Blog

Circles & Flames December 21, 2017 11:21

As 2017 comes to a close, it’s come to my mind lately that we have some reoccurring themes in our work.

One is that we here at St Lawrence Pottery spend a lot of time spinning in circles.  Clay is shaped on a humming revolving disk. Up out of a gob of mud will spin an object. Another wheel turns and curls of clay pull away leaving a perfectly round bottom bases. Across the studio molten glass is wrapped around and around a glowing mandrel. Glass threads of color roll over surfaces in stripes and patterns.   Near by white bisque forms rotate on a decorating wheel. Glaze swirls onto surfaces leaving stories of experience or images of respite.

(above Annie watches her dad throw clay into canister vases)

The other returning theme at St Lawrence Pottery is the all-important fire. We run kilns, torches and this time of year stoke the wood stove all day. While we’re super cautious heat makers we have to push our materials to the edge of destruction and back again to attain a finished product. Like the Saint our river is named after, flames fuel our existence.

All of what we do demands a great deal of concentration. Sometimes the deliberate focus acts as a meditation. Sometimes the chaos of the outside world will disappear in our labor. Almost hypnotically a useful and sometimes lovely object appears. It’s what we hope for.

On a circular musical note, the late Gord Downie’s song "Love over Money" has been on a endless, albeit peppy loop in my interior sound track. Gord was the lead singer of The Tragically Hip and the song is a story of the band’s sacrifice for art. “Love over money, that’s how we got good.”  


(the above is a bit of mandela/doodle from Sarah Ellen Smith Artist's notebook)

I feel my role as an artist is to quietly work at making beautiful things that might make people feel relief or pause. Forgive the comparison, but like the Tibetan Monks laboring at their artists’ sand circles, without the viewer the Mandela does not exist. This is an enormously important. Our customers become a part of the art by experiencing the piece.  It closes the circles of time, creativity and love.

So as this wheel of a year comes back to center, thanks for doing your part. For those of you holding your St Lawrence Pottery mugs, touching your River bead or gazing at one of my paintings as you read this. Even those who stop by to just look at what we make. You all are participants in the artistic process and we thank you!

Joseph Campbell told us to, “Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.”

I share that thought for this Holiday Christmas Season and wish everyone peace and health through the coming new year. 


And if that's not quite enough going around in circles for you- here's the link to the tutorial I did several years ago.