Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My Book Begins (unedited)

Kona Potters Guild
I sit in a hotel room in Hawaii where I have finally isolated myself from the outside world to write this book. I have wanted to write this for several years, have started it a few times panicked thinking maybe I did not know enough after all. Now I have regained my confidence and I want to share what I know from my years as a potter, a sculptor, a wife and mother and a half way decent business person/artist/teacher. I want to tell you how I have survived over 35 years in a fairly conservative community and stayed inspired and produced thousands of pots.
I found a way to do it and enjoy it and not ever give up. Everyday I still wake with more ideas and creative energy.
I hope this book finds it way into the hands of others like me who just wanted to make art and lots of it. Communicating through art is one of the most rewarding parts of my life. So follow me on this journey about surviving and balancing life and making your life rewarding everyday.

It is late at night, I sit in an old hotel listening to the rain hit the tin roof, thinking. Cars pass on the wet two-lane road in the Kona area of Hawaii. It has rained all day and everything is green and lush. I am staying in a hotel started in 1927 by a Japanese family and it remains in that family. It is a cheap clean room, spare with a bed a chair, dresser, lamp and desk with no chair. I have stored my clothes in one half of the dresser and turned the other half into my pantry. I don’t want to leave this side of the island until this book is nearly finished. I must write it. I feel compelled. I look out the window and I see a gallery sign reading, Art Farm.” Maybe that is where I am. I am stuck writing next to an art farm. Let it grow.

Today I drove the island looking for potteries and coffee farms. I want to know how others stay inspired and I will also tell you what works for me.
The first potter I saw had a great set up. Originally from Oregon he moved to Hawaii 18 years ago and started a pottery, gift shop, coffee and macadamia nut farm and also sells shaved ice. The man’s shop was immaculate. Never have I seen a coffee-roasting machine right next to a potter’s wheel and not a spot of dirt next to either one. The shop was immaculate. The sign read, pottery and coffee welcome and enter. I pulled my rental car down the hill into his small private driveway and parking area. An English bulldog who was simply doing his job announcing my arrival greeted me. I stepped into the gallery and saw several crystal fired pots, jewelry, soaps, teas, canvas bags and a bar with a big shaved ice sign next to a display of coffee tea and nuts. The potter welcomed me and handed me a small fresh cup of coffee. I introduced myself and we began talking about inspiration and pottery. He took me through is studio and led me to the balcony where he pointed to his coffee trees. He explained that he used to be a seminary student and switched to clay and then began making a relationship between growing coffee beans, making pots and God.
He explained how you start with a 100 year old plant, wait 4 years and the flowers begin to grow. Many of the flowers fall off the branch; some remain and turn into the coffee bean. First they turn yellow then green then red and then purple. After that no other beans grow on that area and later the top of tree blossoms and it is trimmed and new branches appear.
He was thinking hard and the harder he thought the larger his eyes got and the more he questioned my religious beliefs. He quoted the bible and told me how he was an atheist and thought he knew all the answers and then became a spiritual person. He said he had been married to a new age woman and participated in her rituals and how that did not work out and he remarried.
He asked me about my religion and I confessed that I am a Unitarian and he was not sure what to make of that. It was like he had heard of it but was quite skeptical.
“What do you believe in?” He asked me.
I said that most people think Unitarians don’t believe in anything but that is not how I feel. I told him we as a group do not believe in original sin and have a great sense of fairness for others and we are political watchdogs as well. His eyes got a little larger and he looked at me skeptically. I said, “I am an optimist and a positive thinker and I don’t think most people are evil. However I am no fool, I know people do bad things as well. I am not a Pollyanna. I like the fact that our church will marry people in love from varying religions. I think that is a good thing.”
He went on to load his kiln as my cell phone rang and I think he became more skeptical about me.
“I don’t think it works, people who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior getting married.”
I was only asking about inspiration and his pottery and somehow the conversation kept rolling back to religion.
I walked back over to his sales area purchased some of his prize winning coffee for my husband and he handed me a New testament and I said thanks and crammed it in my purse. I appreciated his comments and took note that his cup was more than half full. He was obviously pleased with his life and I was happy he found his way to live in his very symbolic world and he was kind enough to invite me to pick fruit from his garden.
He said "You do what you are called to do. Fruitfulness is on the new growth (new pottery ideas.)" He also mentioned people are concerned about getting one item instead of learning to move the clay. You should feel the flow or dance with it. Don't be concerned about the fruit. You cannot see creativity but you can smell it. He made several more analogies to clay, the coffee beans and God.

It was not exactly what I had in mind about what inspires others but it just helps prove we are all in it for many reasons. I drove off and headed for coffee farms and the Kona coffee guild.

I headed south and stopped at a coffee farm and museum. The place was packed with people from a tour bus. They looked like your typical American tourist, lots of people with money burning a whole in their pocket as they searched for interesting things to buy for gifts for others. The shop tempted them all with samples of fresh baked rum cake, coffees and teas. There were tee shirts, colognes, 99 cents shell necklaces that I was tempted by until I saw they were made in the Philippines. I found mass produced coffee cups with decals for $12-$22 dollars. They were nothing special, just old fashioned looking coffee cups like restaurants used to use. How much money would they spend ? Money was burning holes in there hands. I walked around noticing only one person came into the museum that explained how the history of the coffee plantations. I sprayed my arm with jasmine Hawaiian perfume and continued to watch them shop. What a shame, potters so close by with handmade pots and they preferred flavored coffees, cheap shell necklaces and tee shirts. I went to the restroom, washed the cheap perfume off my arm and wondered how any potter ever makes a living.

As I drove into town I had noticed a sign pointing down the hill to a potters guild and studio. I stopped and walked down the beat up driveway and found my way into the shop.
Another potter who has actually been working longer greeted me. She did not look it but she sid she had been working for 50 years. I asked her how she stays inspired. “It is just the clay. It is what it is.” Funny I just had a dear friend with that it quote on a silver necklace give it to me. This lady and I were on the same wavelength. We discussed what she thinks makes pots more valuable and she talked about the specialness of some pots. I noticed she had a pitcher for only $45 and she thought it was priced a little high. She also thinks about just how much someone is willing to spend on a pitcher and she said if they did not love it they would not pay any more than that.
She said she just thinks that clay does something wonderful.
Another female potter appeared at the back of the shop and I introduced myself and I asked her what kept her inspired and she said, “I love what I do. I like working for myself and I like making things that look different. I like to see the person’s individuality. She recommended the book Spiritual Art by Melissa Zink. She told me she had taught for a while then lived in Dixon NM and moved to Hawaii in 1989. She had been making pots for 30 years but 18 full time in Hawaii. She was a youthful and lanky 65 years old with lively gray hair and bright purple clothing.
More tomorrow.

So what do you think? It's a start. The guy in the next room is snoring so loud I think he might blow the wall down!

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