The Power of Handmade

I was once asked how I achieve the primitive look in my ceramics. The only answer I could give is that I just do the best I can, and that’s how things turn out. Despite my sincerest efforts, the result of my labors is always just a little crooked or a bit off center. If one accepts a wabi-sabi philosophy, imperfections are a sign of humbleness and humanness, guiding one toward a gentler, more tolerant definition of beauty.

new vase in progress

I consider my work to be a dialogue between me and the clay. Sometimes the clay has something to say. Sometimes I disagree and vice versa.  Oftentimes, I wish my creation were just a bit more perfect. But my method of creating involves making molds. Once a piece has been cast in plaster, it is around for quite some time. Not until many pieces are made, worked on, and then used repeatedly, do I come to understand and appreciate the irregularity of my shapes. The process, like relationships with people and forming friendships, takes time.

pouring molds, kRI kRI Studio

The imperfections of my original works are in my molds, permanently. There is nothing I can do but accept them. Therein comes the wabi-sabi sensibility. In humbleness, I put my heart and soul into my work. In return, I bond with my forms, getting a feeling of purpose and integrity in what I do.

Creating things and having elements of handmade in our lives helps us develop our sensitivities to differences and to be more mindful. Handmade creations are imperfect by nature. That is what gives them their charm. So, it is with people too. We are all individuals, quirky, unique, awkward, and each special. Long days in my studio allow me time to think and devote my attention to the clay. As I do, it speaks to me and whispers, “When talking with others, listen to them. Try to hear what they are really saying. Respect them. In this way you come to understand them and accept them in all their imperfections.” The clay also asks for patience.

I have sense of mission while I work. I want the care I take with my ceramics to be passed along to the user. By encouraging my customers to not just admire, but to handle and use my ceramics, I hope they will connect with the human element of ‘’handmade’’. I believe it is important to make room for handmade objects in our homes and in our daily lives. With their wabi-sabi character and imperfect beauty, they have the power to enrich our lives. Just listen.

Read more of my thoughts on wabi-sabi on Beyond The Beige