Monday, June 22, 2009

One brick at a time

Today is rainy and dreary. At least the temperature's a little cooler.

Yesterday most of Steve's family was here for Father's Day. We cooked out and played Hillbilly Golf and Corn Hole. Our niece and her husband and sister didn't make it. She got nailed in the face with a line drive when she was pitching for some softball league they're in. It was pretty serious, but could have been much worse. It appears that nothing is actually broken in her face, but she's getting her teeth checked today, she had to have some stitches and couldn't eat solid foods for a day or 2. I hope she's doing better and doesn't pitch anymore softball because this is her second incident, and few years ago our son had to have major surgery on one of his fingers when he was pitching and got hit in the hand with a line drive. I told my niece that I've come to the conclusion that organized sports are of the devil! I've held this belief since I was a young (fat and un-athletic) child. These incidents only prove my instincts to be correct!

Today we got a little mowing in before the rain and then I was planning to start grinding the crap off of the bricks that I'm planning to use to build the salt kiln. They were used before in a gas kiln, and have a lot of crud on the edges that needs to come off. They should be smooth as possible so the kiln is tight and doesn't let a lot of heat out. But the weather deterred me from starting.

I feel like I've been putting off getting started on the kiln and I'm trying to figure out why, since it's really the main thing I want to focus on at this point in my life. I think part of it has been wanting to figure out what's the best location in regards to accessibility, but keeping in mind that the firings will produce some smoke, ash, and fumes that we may not want blowing directly over the house. After conducting some research online and emailing a few potters whose opinions I value, I think I've decided on the location.

But I think that's only been part of what's keeping me from digging into this project. Ok, another surface excuse has been that there's just so doggone much that needs to be done around here. There actually were some projects that I put a higher priority on than my salt kiln. But now things are somewhat squared away, we can at least live in the house and we've made it presentable for guests, so I'm at a point where it's time to kick ass and get this kiln built!

So today when I was mowing (I tend to do my major philosophizing on the lawn mower or when I'm shoveling horse manure, which I don't have the opportunity to do much these days.) So, while I was mowing, I was trying to figure out why I'm dragging my feet about this and I think it has to do with age and experience. I would bet that if I had been in this situation 10 years ago, I would be tackling this project with reckless abandon!! But now I know a little more than I did back then, I think that I know enough, to know how much I DON'T know about kilns and firing, and pottery and clay!! Am I making sense?

I feel like I've reached a major fork in the road of my development as a potter and while part of me is extremely excited about the opportunity, another part of me knows how much time and effort (and of course always the cold hard cash) is going to have to be invested in this venture. At 47, I think I'm just a little more aware of the effort and the possibility for failure. I know I've lamented this before, maybe I'm starting to sound like a tired old broken record.

I have a friend who's an artist (and may be one of the 2 people on the planet who is actually reading my blog!) He works full-time as a commercial artist and does his writing and painting in his spare time. A few months ago (in my former blog) I was
whining about the difficulty I was experiencing in coming to a decision to buy all this pottery equipment in the first place. At that time I mentioned my "fear of failure" as one of the hurdles that was making the decision so difficult. Big shock, that hurdles back. We think we've cleared them, but they always seem to pop up again, don't they?

I guess that means it should get easier to just get on with it. My friend said that he tends to look at his "failures" more as "learning experiences." He says he feels like he experiences his greatest growth during these periods, and if he didn't take the risks, he wouldn't experience the growth. I know he's right. (It's probably where the term "growing PAINS" is partially derived!)

I guess as I get older though, it takes more umph! to get myself to take the risk!! It's a helluva lot easier to sit on my duff and pontificate about my options. (Kinda like I'm doing right now, perhaps?!)

It's also easier to look at other people's so-called "failures" as learning experiences. My friend told me about a personal experience that he had, where he considered himself to be a huge failure. I disagreed with his assessment. Without going into detail, I told him that if he had actually "succeeded" at what he was attempting, he would have failed greatly in another area of his life that probably had much more importance and significance, even if he was questioning it at the time.

It seems like life is typically a balancing act. We try to strike a balance between doing the things we need to do and the things we want to do. Sometimes they overlap, which can be both a blessing and a curse! Unfortunately I think that often society in general tends to get the priorities turned around. Society looks at a successful athlete, or scientist, or artist and admires them for their accomplishments. But society doesn't take into consideration whether or not that person's family life is in a shambles due to the amount of time they had to dedicate to their chosen profession. I'm sure there are hundreds, maybe thousands of "average" athletes, scientists, artists, etc., who could have neglected other obligations to put more time and effort into their profession, but instead decided to put that time and effort into their relationships and never achieve the fame they might have had, if they'd focused on their profession a little more. It seems unfortunate to me that we don't consider these people to be the true examples of success!

My friend says we're probably just rationalizing! He may be right. But sometimes I think it's almost easier to neglect the priorities that are typically considered mundane, like going to your kid's soccer game, or taking your spouse out for a date, or taking care of an aging parent. I believe that some people use their desired profession as an excuse to neglect doing the mundane chores that often drain us of the energy we need to do the things we consider fun. How many people who are considered to be a success at their profession have failed miserably at being a spouse, parent, son or daughter? It boils down to priorities.

So I guess all this is just my rationalization for why I'm not outside right now sanding the crud off those kiln bricks so I can start building that kiln. The sun has come out again, I've got no excuses. Well, I am waiting for Steve to get back with a handle for the disc sander. I could probably lose a finger or two using it without a handle and that's not very conducive to potting! But I'll get out there, I swear I will!

My goal is to have the kiln firing by the first of September. Yeah, I don't wanna push myself, do I? I figure that gives me time to pour the slab, clean the bricks, get it built, have propane piped out there , get the electric upgraded in the garage so I can fire the electric kiln, hopefully get water run out to the garage, get some pots thrown and bisque fired, and get my new shelves, get the kiln coated with ITC, build the kiln shed..............................OH MY GOSH!!! I'm not so sure about the first of September now!!! Ok, deep breath, one day at a time, one brick at a time.

I'm gonna go do something more productive now!!

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