Reasons the clay studio is really NOT like the intense kitchen of a famous chef:

Pace. I might have several “orders” being made at once, but it’s over a period of hours, days, weeks. There is no intensity of being “hammered”. It’s meditational, almost. Calm. It’s instructive to have to time yourself according to when the pot is dry enough to trim, still wet enough to alter, ready for the next step. It’s what my mom used to call “character building”.

Territory. While people carve out their own spaces, grumble over shelves, find hidey-holes, stash clay, and race to the best wheels, it’s a much larger space than a crowded kitchen. People drift in and out over a period of days. On Tuesdays I am the only one there for most of the day.

Leadership. In HEAT, Mario Batali sounds a lot like an ego-motivated, self-promoting tyrant. Diana is seemingly without ego, and values our work and our learnign experiences over any notion of “her” studio.

Comraderie. The students in the current classes are always happy to see each other. We make jokes, keep up a banter despite Diana’s assertion that it’s distracting, and form friendships that carry over into kiln stoking time, cell phone connections and beers at Side Track. While we always size up each other’s work, there’s not a lot of cutthroat competitiveness going on. In fact, among the MFAs there is none at all. Lee suggested that we might like to cordon off our shared studio with curtains or partitions, but I can’t imagine why.

One woman who is making large, lovely sculptures joked once over beers that she wanted to trip me whenever she saw me bringing in board after box of the work I made at home… but it was a joke, and a compliment, and I was honored by it.

Connor rode with me yesterday (sunday) to key into the closed-for-the-holidays studio and glaze anatolian pots, make cone packs, and load the kiln. Reem is finishing the surfaces of the last two of four large sculptures with a stain that exposes a marvelous landscape of surface crackle and driftwood-like striations. The kiln is in mid-firing now, and I am packing my bags to make that drive once again. Diana’s guest bed has become a familiar place, and fills a secret fantasy I had all through the baby-raising years about having “a room of one’s own” — thinking space away from all my busy, noisy loved ones, at least briefly.

I can decompress in the 45 minutes it takes me to get there — no radio, no distractions, just the transition from thinking about home/kids to having my head back in studio mode.

Next blog will be about the pots.