Making Lemonade From Broken Pottery

You know the saying, “When life gives you lemons…” – it’s a saying I try to live by.  I recently read a blog post by a potter who emphatically stated that when she screws up a pot she immediately trashes it, screams, cries, and says a lot of very bad words.  I know the feeling.

Years ago I had the pleasure of hosting Ellen Shankin in my home while she was giving a workshop for our Texas Pottery and Sculpture Guild.  She is a fabulous potter, teacher, and all-around wonderful person.  One of the things she taught was about screwing up a pot you made, especially one you spent a lot of time creating.  She said, don’t throw it away – take a deep breath, then take a second look.  Whether it is while you are throwing, carving a leather hard piece, or unloading a kiln to find a disaster – see what you can learn or where the mistake might take you.


It’s hard! But, every time I mess up, I hear her words and try to obey.  This has led to some really cool new work for me over time.  Once, after spending hours carving a platter, I picked it up carelessly and broke off part of the rim.  Eeek!  I really wanted to throw that thing as far as I could, but Ellen’s words rang in my ears, so I gently put it down and walked away.  Later, when I took a second look, I saw beauty in the broken part and decided to go with it.  Now, those platters with a section of uneven, cut off edge are my best sellers!  So I tried it with bowls.  Who wants a perfectly round bowl or platter when you can have something unique?  My customers love them.

 
 
This platter is a great example.  The cut edge was intentional (lesson learned long ago), but when I took it from the kiln, there was a blob of red glaze on the yellow.  NOT intentional.  After looking at it for a while, I decided to add more red glaze to make the shape of a heart, re-fire it, and title it “For the Love of Horses”.  The customer was thrilled!
 
So, whatever your mistake – in life, in business, in art – stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and see just what you can learn from it. You may discover something wonderful!
 
I’d love to hear from you about mistakes you’ve made and what you learned from them.  Leave your comments below.
 
Yakoke! Thanks for taking the time to read.  You can see more of my work on my website:
 
 
In gratitude,
 
Carolyn Bernard Young

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Oh the Suspense

Shame on me!  I left you hanging in November without a follow-up after the mugs were fired.  Well…they turned out fabulous!  The size is generous – 10-12 ounces and they feel so good in your hand.  I’m still tweaking the handles a… […]

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Carving my Bottoms

For some years, I made a point of carving a little drawing on the bottom of my pots. Then I changed to just carving my “dancing lady” on the bottom.  I got away from it when I ordered a professional stamp with my signature and Earth to Art logo.&n… […]

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Beautify All Things

Saturday was Fort Worth Gallery Night, and I was thrilled to have work in two places.

  • “Spirit of Home” was at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center in the Best of Texas Clay show.  What an honor to be among such gifted artists and spectacular art – all made of clay.
  •  “Beautify All Things” was in Art in the Garden at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens.  It was a small show, mostly paintings, with a small number of 3D entries and only a weekend show, so I wasn’t expecting much.  So, imagine my surprise, when I went to pick it up yesterday and was told I couldn’t have it – it was SOLD!  What a great feeling to know that piece that was so special to me will grace someone’s home.

As I’ve said before, I love what I do and am grateful daily that I get to do it! 



“Spirit of Home”
“Beautify All Things”




Oh What a Beautiful Morning!

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Art Exploration


I know, I know – it’s been almost a year since I blogged – BUT what a year!! It was a year of art exploration and so much fun! I explored metals, enamels, resins, polymer clay, bronze & copper clay – you name it, I tried it. By the end of the year I had learned something very important – my passion is clay. Pottery will always be my first love and deepest passion, but polymer clay and metal clays are running a close second. So I came back to my roots…making pots in white stoneware, then covering them with black underglaze and carving through it to reveal the pristine white clay beneath. It’s like watching a sculpture unfold before my eyes and I simply delight in doing it. Here’s a photo of my recent work and you can see more at my website www.earthtoart.com.

Follow me this year and I promise to bring you all the excitement in the studio and my new gallery (more later on that)! Fasten your seatbelts! […]

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19 ounces of Chunky Soup

A good friend of mine from high school (way back in the 60’s) contacted me with a dilemma. He wanted a mug that would hold 19 ounces of Chunky Soup and asked if I could make one – something unusual. What fun I had in the studio making these mugs! They … […]

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