Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tourist Buses Chapter 2

A few mugs I made while in Hawaii

My desk at the City of Refuge looking toward Japan.
After my religious dose, 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. So much money and how would they spend it?  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.

Listening Chapter 3

Reflections in the ocean at the City of Refuge on the Big Island of Hawaii
You know we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  Funny thing for a potter to say.
We learn when we listen and you usually don’t learn a thing when you are talking unless you are evaluating recent knowledge.
    I was visiting Pu’Uhonua o Honaunau, a historical park today, commonly called the City of Refuge, and heard some interesting words from a demonstrating wood carver and park ranger named Tom De Aguiar.  A young man walked by with his golden retrievers unleashed and the ranger said,  “Hey, you gotta get the dogs on a leash.”  The young man ignored him and instead of going after him or yelling, he mumbled a little under his breath and did not look angry or at all irritated. 
He said, “There is a time to listen and there is a time to not listen.  The not listening person is the one not interested.  The one who is listening is learning their peace.  The other is not ready.”  Then he kept carving a hiking stick he was working on for a man getting ready to retire.  I do believe he is a good listener.
Earlier in the park I heard a loud and grabby lady, asking where is all the information, what should she be looking at?  Are there any organized tours?  Don’t they have another map like the one on display she can buy?  The lady was wearing out the lady park ranger and was hardly hearing any answers.  She was exhausting to listen to and had no idea the answers were right in front of her.  The maps were in a box, the information was neatly numbered to match the map and there was a park path to follow as well.  The lady ranger explained there would be an official tour later but the lady wandered off.  She had not listened even when she asked the loud questions in a nearly rude way.

The sea turtle is still protected on the grounds at the City of Refuge
We were on ancient royal grounds where they killed people like her for disobeying and not following  the rules.  
In this ancient ground of spiritual power, those who had broken the Kapu meaning they could not look at or get close to the chief, walk in the chiefs footsteps, touch the chiefs possessions, or let his (her) shadow fall on the ground, were punished.  Women could not eat the foods reserved for offerings for the gods; they could not prepare food for the men or eat with them.  When a kapu was broken the person was put to death.  If they did not punish the guilty then the gods would get them.  Thus, tidal waves, volcanic eruptions or earthquakes.
  So much for the lady asking questions unless she could make it to the Place of Refuge, another area in the park behind a large stone wall where everyone is or was given a second chance.  No blood could be shed there.  In those days, old people, sick, too young or defeated enemies could wait out battles thanks to the bones of dead kings being buried there.  Everyone was released and given another chance.  So what happened to that good idea?  And we are the civilized ones?
    Listening is important.  If you want to learn how to make art you need to listen and it is a good idea not to be grabbing information but take it with grace and give it time to jell.  If you cannot understand it you are not ready for it.
    No one should want to be a shallow expert.  It is good to keep your confidence but keep the gate of your mind open.
    When beginners come to my shop and I give them free information so the art will grow, I am amazed how many become experts immediately and start spouting off absolutes.  I am still a beginner and I started 35 or 40 years ago.  If I thought I new it all I would move on and try something new.  

Monday, May 9, 2011

Chapter one Staying Inspired

coffee beans growing on the Big Island of Hawaii, Kona
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 clay 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.
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

Forward for Getting There written from the Big Island

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.