Before I met Jim back in 1982, I was a potter (and working an office job). I was recently divorced. I had bought a house, poured concrete for a kiln pad, hired 6 men to move my kiln from my ex’s house to mine. I had hired a friend to build a redwood fence around the kiln area, and I had designed a neoprene cover with zippers to keep it dry, and had that fabricated by a tent company in Denver. I had set up my own studio in the downstairs bedroom. I was perfectly capable of lugging 50-pound boxes of clay into my house and loading my kiln with 27-pound shelves. I was often up till all hours of the night firing my pots. Then I met Jim – a six-foot-two, 170-pound man with a man’s physique. He was a potter himself and we hit it off in a New York minute.
Jim designed and built a room onto the back of my house for a pottery studio. That was even before we got married. You can see what was important to us! When we married I was 39 and he was 45. We both continued working in the corporate marketplace, making our pottery after work and on weekends. We schlepped it to craft fairs all over Colorado on weekends.
Jim took over the heaving lifting, but we still shared the glazing, stacking, and kiln firing. We moved away from craft fairs and into craft galleries. I took over all the pricing, and recording of sales and inventory. He did the ordering and pick up of supplies.
In 1997 we kicked the corporate habit and moved to our present home in Central Colorado. Both of us were in fine shape – strong, energetic, creative. At last we could do what we loved every day.
Here’s a picture of Jim a couple of years ago – just a kid, right?
It’s now 2012. We generally work hard in spring, summer and fall; then we take off after Christmas and resume firing the kiln when the weather warms.
Alas, Jim had an accident two weeks ago. Ironically, he tripped over a curb after leaving the Channel 9 Health Fair, landed on his right shoulder, which now is “separated.” That happens when the top end of the shoulder blade (scapula) becomes separated from the collar bone (clavical). The two bones come together at the top of the shoulder, connected by a joint call the acromioclavicular joint (the AC Joint). It’s an area that’s tied together by ligaments and cartilage. Shoulder separations are graded I – VI. His is between a Grade II and III. He’s been told it will get better on its own. He must do specific exercises and ice it when it hurts. And he must wear a harness kind of sling that binds his upper arm to his side and his wrist to his chest. This position allows the shoulder to rest. We don’t know how long it will be before he’s well and able to resume his pottery.
Also, he was just about finished stacking the electric kiln for a bisque firing. Two days ago, we lowered the lid (he, holding onto the left handle with his left hand, and me, holding the right handle.) The following day, he fired the bisque. I unloaded it two days later, removing all the shelves. (They aren’t terribly heavy). Here’s a photo of the empty electric kiln.
And here’s a photo of some of the contents — heads!
Jim has been making lots of faces – watching many You-tubes of sculptors creating clay heads. He’s made about 20 of these, and we will eventually glaze them. The first ones were clunky, and several cracked in the bisque. They are just practice pieces.
I’ve been packing up small batches of pottery for our stores. Generally, I’m the one who prices the pots, while Jim wraps and loads up the boxes. Now I get to do both jobs. Here are a couple of boxes ready to go to our Salida store, Mountain Spirit Winery next Thursday.
So today, I thought I’d try to remove the shelves in the gas kiln. I managed to take down the top four, but my abdominal muscles weren’t up to the task. I’ll need to call upon a hunky neighbor to finish the job.
I’ve always wondered when Jim and I would ever give up the pottery. We’re not there yet, but I see the shadow of that possibility on the distant horizon.