12th Century Jug

I have been taking workshops for several years.  And, since 2009, Julie and I have been attending week-long workshops.  One was hosted in Asheville and two were sponsored by Arrowmont.  All of them helped me technically; but more than that, they provided fuel for inspiration that I still draw from.

This year, we are not attending a workshop.  It was a multi-faceted decision due to timing, topics, and prior commitments.  Although it was a bit of a disappointment, an unexpected trip with Jeff has provided a lot of inspiration for me in a different way.

Jeff had a training class in NJ so we expanded the trip to include a visit to NYC, stopover in Boston, and jaunt up to Portland.  It has been so great.  We saw some plays, ate in fabulous restaurants, wandered through several museums, and took lots of photos.  Basically we were unabashed tourists.

Collection of creamers in Bombay Cabinet

While we’ve been traveling, I began to think about how much travel has changed.  I made a few hotel reservations on-line (no travel agent necessary), did a few searches on the net for city passes (no AAA necessary), grabbed a credit card and ATM card (no traveler’s checks (did anyone ever use them?)), plugged the addresses in the GPS (no maps), used several apps like Yelp to find restaurants whenever we were ready to eat (no travel books needed), took pictures with my IPad and phone (not limited to 24 photos per roll), and called home whenever I wanted from my cell (no calling cards).  Have I dated myself?

Detail of knob on ceremonial pot

But these are mostly logistics.  What has really changed is me.  I have traveled a lot and in many different ways.  But, since I have become a potter, I notice different things and see things from an alternative perspective.  The most obvious change is how interesting I find all those pots and pot shards.  Even though I always wanted to be a potter, I never found such museum exhibits interesting.  But now, I can’t get through such displays without marveling at how surface decoration and shape were important for as long as there have been pots.  There is a wealth of inspiration in historical pots.

I also notice colors, graphic designs, patterns, and textures in a myriad of places and wonder how I can translate them to a pot.

Then there are all the lovely and engaging things on display or on stage or on a plate – all thrill me and make me ache to contribute something beautiful to the world.  So much inspiration and still so many days until I get back into the studio!