Building the Gas Kiln | Brick by Brick
If I were to listen to my Dad, knowing he’d cringe seeing a picture of himself “online”, I’d choose another image without him in it. But it would be like a missing brick to this project and nothing would hold firm if he wasn’t a part of it. So whether he likes it or not, he became a part of this and I’ll just either hope he never reads this or forgives me for the weakness of an admiring daughter. This has been a long mental, physical, geographical and emotional journey he’s taken with me. He (and my mom) are my actual and poetic foundation. Though I be terribly fierce in my determination to build things, there is no way my mind would be capable of working the way his does.
Today I asked about two inane blocks of wood laying on top of the slab top we poured was for. I couldn’t make it out. I can usually visualize most things but had no idea if this was misplaced lumber or it was part of the next process. I can’t say I ever kept up with when he would want to work on this next, and, what was his next step. “It’s a crane.” And then the smug, affected look when he really wants to goad me as a reminder, “I’m an engineer, you know”. As if I didn’t know. And not ironically at all, he was wearing his shirt that proudly proclaims Enginerd when he said it. It was probably the next shirt in line in the drawer. He never notices when he’s intentionally funny, and I like that hold that over him too. We have that kind of relationship.
I’m going to go back in time as we’re nearing completion, to show the journey, the motivation and plans for the future on this humble, beautiful memory I’ll always have. But it hasn’t all been sunshine and daisies. I am his assistant. I’ve have been barked at in the process when my brain or hands didn’t catch up to his, or, in my penchant of snapping documentary shots when I could, this too was slowing him down. I get it, I have a hard time making myself stop my own projects to visually note the process. But I’ve been used to not being able to catch up all my life. As a mere pup I remember struggling with my short legs to keep up to his 6′ limbs. I was just expected to keep pace, and as I sit here my friends in NYC used to say, “You are the fastest walker I’ve ever met. Slow down!”. You just had to run to catch up and though he’s slowed a little it’s never been enough that I can ever keep up. The track and cross country star is still in that frame so you better see that hole and catch up. At least he’s never held my small frame against me. He raised no sissy girls though, that’s for sure and certain.
This has been a long mental, physical, geographical and emotional journey he’s taken with me. He (and my mom) are my actual and poetic foundation.
My entire journey in ceramics started with both my parents. My mom sitting in the warm summer car knitting away for hours when I took my first pottery workshop in middle school. Later on in the off-season between the end of high school tennis and just before winter training for track, my friend Brighid and I were picked up after school by her mom and taken to this same studio outside of Gilbertsville, NY. I loved those days. My mom urged my dad to come in before my last session that first summer to look at the wheels, knowing full well he can make anything and should make me a kickwheel so I could continue at home. Those are my parents. I will never be able to explain what a good set of parents can do for confidence when so many dismiss the arts and refuse to even entertain the idea of arts for a career. A plan was created and executed for my first kickwheel within a couple months time. My childhood dog, Lorenzo looked on through sawing wood and pouring of cement. Later he kept me company in the cool shop while I worked. I “practiced” until New York’s November’s weather made for cramped, cold fingers in wet buckets. That young I wore sandals in the snow because that’s what nutty, obstinate teenagers do. Ambition drives most everything. Not much has changed even now. But I stopped then only because they put the foot down. “That’s enough until next year.” Protests fell on deaf ears and I anxiously waited for the spring like pulling out your bikes when the Robin’s started to arrive.
Long before blogs as a busy teenager I didn’t write these things down. But I’m older now, trying to play a little catch up and I’m sure some of these memories will pop up from time to time. These entries are for me but if down the road it can be helpful for someone else, that’s really great. I’ll highlight important things skim-worthy if the sentiments get in the way. But in the way they must stay. I’m looking back at 20+ years now in a career centered on this now so you must allow me my sentimentality. And this is my story and I want to keep on reading it to know if it’s any good or not.