Sunday, January 29, 2012

Monday Mantra: Ancora Imparo

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Ancora Imparo: I am still learning
Photo Credit:
"Learn like you will live forever." - Unknown

I'm slightly addicted to learning new things. Due to that I am constantly enrolled in school for one thing or another. This year so far I have a French class lined up in March and remember how I wanted to be a ninja? Yeah. That's right. I'm taking Karate again. Or I will be anyway, once I get a handle on my newest endeavour, Ceramics 101, aka The Hardest Class I Have Ever Taken. EVER.

My desire to take pottery all started with a book series I began reading a couple of years ago. The girl in it was always doing pottery and it seemed to be not only fun, but relaxing. Plus, Demi Moore made it look pretty cool in Ghost, so I thought I'd give it a try.


I think I'm going to lose my mind.

Class 1: We watch a video on how to knead your clay, throw it on a wheel, and make some fancy things with it. It looks easy. Kneading the clay? That requires practically no skill at all, from what I can tell. Centering the clay? Please, too easy. Making a vase? C'mon now, anyone can do that. All of it looks so simple that I have mentally already created a teacup set, a breathtaking vase, a bowl/plate one-of-a-kind thing, and a Louvre worthy sculpture. I'm all over this.

Piece. Of. Cake.

Class 2: It's time to actually use our clay. First, the kneading, which about breaks my wrists off due to the clay being ridiculous. I have to knead it approximately 120 times, per section of it that I use, based on instruction of the teacher who told me to get this stupid type of clay in the first place that "absolutely, positively has to be kneaded 120 times" every single time. Forever and a day later, when I'm finally done with that, it's time to throw the clay on the wheel and make a mug.

This is where I start to lose it.

Not only do I not get my clay centered on the wheel for the first hour of class, but I also do not make anything resembling a mug, or anything at all for that matter except a huge pile of messed up mug attempts. I start to get incredibly frustrated.

On top of that, there's this kid in my class who my classmate, Abby, and I have nicknamed Picasso. He  has already busted out an entire mug set and he's working on a vase by the hour and a half mark. I am mentally cursing him out in my head.

As I'm still attempting to make one damn mug, I slice my finger open pretty impressively, considering that I'm working with clay and mostly dull objects. Score one for the clay, zero for me. I give up and go home.

Class 3: Picasso is done with his entire mug set and is putting the finishing touches on his vase which now looks much more like a beautiful sculpture of some sort. Damn him and his fantastic pottery skills. Abby and I have decided that we are the worst students in the class. We make a pact that neither one of us is allowed to drop out and we change to a Pass/Fail grade, as is suggested by one of the other students. Clearly others are noticing our amazing pottery skills.

I need to get four mugs made by the end of class so that I can put handles on them in next week's class. The handles, by the way, also look incredibly easy to make, but I'm not falling for that movie magic trickery again! I know

After about ten failed attempts at mugs, the teacher ends up pitying me and making one mug for me. I end up making one "mug" as well. Please see below.

Guess which one of those in the picture is mine? I call it The If-An-Earthquake-Were-Happening-and-You-Were-Making-Pottery-Instead-of-Running-for-Your-Life Mug. It's so beautiful I almost cry.

Class 4: Picasso has moved on entirely to a new project. Whatever. Abby and I are stuck in mug making  hell. I silently pray that I get a guardian angel of pottery to come help me out and, low and behold, something magical happens. I end up making something, not a mug, but a small bowl thing. I am thrilled! Then I bust out a thing that might actually pass as a mug. Maybe. I keep going and I end up with a small vase (which could pass for a teacup in some culture...somewhere...probably...) and a weird looking something or the other. Apparently I can make things, just not mugs.

Oh well.

I now attempt to attach handles onto my "mugs". It does not go well. I fling clay all over everyone and end up making handles that only the Jolly Green Giant would be able to use. I give up and decide to log some extra pottery time over the weekend.

Saturday: I'm stretched on time so I mentally prepare myself the entire morning before I get there. I will make a handle. I will make a handle. I. Will. Make. A. Handle!

I end up making about 20 handles before I give up and just go with the few best ones. My poor little earthquake mug looks so lame that I give it a makeover into what I now call The Mustache Man Mug. Isn't he adorable? I think I love him.
I get one decent handle made for this teacup thing I accidentally made and give up. Oh well. That Pass/Fail grade is clearly going to pay off.

I think I'm going to start a whole line of Mustache Man Mugs. I see this being big. Like clearance at Wal-Mart big. Let me know if you want in on this amazing new product line.

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Mediocre Renaissance Man said...

You have a lot of really wonderful blog posts, but right now this is among my top favorites! What a funny run-down of your experiences in that class! I've definitely been there, where I felt like I was doing exceptionally poor, and it sure can sting to watch someone else get it so gracefully and easily while you suffer.

I do like the Mustache Man Mug, and most importantly I completely agree with the sentiment of learning as though you will live forever. My particular religious views essentially teach that this life is part of an eternal progression and that the only thing we get to take with us from here is what we learn. I absolutely love learning. Probably three quarters of the books I buy, read and put in wishlists are non-fiction books that teach you something. I'll never read them all, of course, but I'd like to think I will!

And classes! I wish I had more time and energy for classes. I have signed up for two free online courses (just got the email for one of them today!) and I hope to keep up the habit of perpetually being enrolled in some kind of learning course.

Once again, what a wonderfully charming post. You're simply awesome, even if you aren't meant to make ceramic mugs. Then again, the class isn't over yet! You still have time to have a sudden breakthrough. :) Have fun!

Mediocre Renaissance Man said...

And I always forget to check the little box to get email notifications of comment replies! So I have to leave another comment to get that going. :)

Chantelle Says said...

Well thank you, Brian! I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I'm certain I can make you an entire set of Mustache Man Mugs, if you so desire. :)

I have a book list much like yours and I can only hope to get through the best of them!

And I had no idea there was a little box to check, so thanks for teaching me something new! I'll have to do that on yours as well.

Mediocre Renaissance Man said...

Yeah, when I leave a comment without checking the box it doesn't email me follow-up comments. I never would have known you commented back to me!

My book list keeps growing. And now that I have a Kindle, the number of books I actually have waiting to be read is growing every week! It's crazy. It's just so easy to get books for free for that thing. Sometimes even new books are being given away as a promotional thing. I think I've got over a hundred books sitting in the cloud waiting to be read.

Good thing I love books. :)