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Ceramics chucking party

It seems to be allergies that are waking me up so early in the mornings, again.

When I woke up this morning, I started thinking about the pair of half-matched ceramic coffee mugs that I made that have been the go-to mugs for breakfast when S is in town. I've maintained a private sort of ritual, where I don't drink out of those mugs when he's out of town. I've mostly drank from another porcelain mug that's chipped and cracked, stamped with ants, but when our relationship broke apart I couldn't drink out of that one, either. Instead I switched back to a mug made by my ceramics instructor, from an unusual clay body and painted with her signature china-painting methods. She gave it to me as a graduation and going-away gift, so it is comforting to drink from it and think back to that supportive community of friends in Tempe.

The half-matched mugs are a trick I learned - even if two handmade ceramic pieces aren't precisely the same, you can turn them into a set if you glaze them similarly or identically. When I threw one of the two mugs on the potter's wheel, I must have accidentally bumped it or touched it, denting part of it. Porcelain clay is challenging like that, in that it is a tremendously unforgiving medium. Instead of completely scrapping the mug, I reshaped it to build the dent into its character (annikusrex will have observed a similar trick in a mug with a crab illustrated on it). Despite their differences, the mugs are a set, made from the same clay body and glazed with the same glaze.

One of the other things my group of ceramics friends and I would occasionally discuss was what to do with all of our misshapen, unuseable pieces - an inevitable part of a creative process where one must practice extensively to learn the medium. My younger sister sytharin said that, for instance, there's a ceramics graveyard at Western Washington University, where students would leave their unwanted art pieces at the end of the semester. I guess eventually it would be someone's job to go through the graveyard and haul things off to a dumpster somewhere.

Those discussions made me think back to a fundraiser party I attended a while back, for the Bike Saviours bike co-op in Tempe. As with many big parties, it was a generally awkward experience for me. I cordoned myself off behind a table of baked goods for sale, because I am most comfortable if I have a job to do at a big event like that. That meant I didn't go downstairs to listen to the incredibly loud music, or go outside to watch people batter into each other on tallbikes.

At the end of the party, I helped clean up, and discovered that one of the activities someone had come up with as a fundraiser item was a "china-chucking" alley. Since I hadn't participated earlier, my friend A encouraged me to try it out. They had a bunch of miscellaneous plates and bowls and cups from a thrift store, so I picked up a saucer and flung it down at the concrete floor, where it shattered into a thousand pieces. [I actually brought home one of the unbroken saucers, and used it as a plant saucer for a long time.]

Remembering this experience led me to suggest a ceramics-chucking party for all of our unloved pieces.

Thinking about those two mugs, whether to break them, though, also reminds me of the tradition during Jewish weddings of breaking a glass. Wikipedia gives several reasons for the tradition, but the one I remember being mentioned at weddings is as a symbol of life's fragility (seems not to far from the idea of tempering thoughts of joy).

The inverse of the overly-intense negative emotional spirals is complete and utter withdrawal and silence, or the parroting of emotions instead of a genuine response. What can a person even do in the face of such things, except try to wait, and in some capacity, pray.

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