My Journey to Pottery

From Creation to re-creation

Growing up in the Ottawa Valley my journey to pottery has been an unlikely one. I was the athlete, always on the move.

It was in college where that began to change. I began to cultivate the contemplative side of my personality, and the deeper I went into myself the more I marvelled at the complexity of how I have been made. This I think is at the heart of my love of pottery. At the wheel I can manipulate and mould the clay, in “real time” as it were, in much the same way people and events in life have moulded and shaped me.

So too when trimming a pot, the shape and character of the piece is refined and purified, just as we are in life by the sharp knife of adversity or the comfort of friendship.

In the kiln, well that’s a crapshoot full of surprises and unexpected reactions the way the grave is. All of what is placed into it is done with intention but when the lid is closed, the mystery begins.

I suppose what I’m getting at is that in pottery I see a metaphor and more than a metaphor for life, and I take comfort in the fact that all creative pursuits require a creator. I hope that as I spend my time creating I’ll get to know mine a little bit better. I try to bring this spirit into everything I make. Just as the creative process reveals how I'm made, I want what I create to reveal a little bit of who I am.

I also try to teach from this posture as well. All creative pursuits have the potential to reveal ourselves. Sometimes we see ourselves more honestly in the act of creating than we otherwise would. I try to make my studio a safe place for people to do the sometimes challenging work of “self discovery.” I always hope that as we strive to make something beautiful, we become more beautiful ourselves.

This good work is best done in an unhurried way. Like the creek that bubbles and trickles behind my studio I try to maintain a gentle rhythm to my work. A creek may seem inconsequential to the grand geography of a region, but its impact is immeasurable over a lifetime. As my pottery, and my students flow out from my studio I’m encouraged that they will impact the people and communities they are a part of in small but significant ways. In short I can’t help but feel blessed that I have been planted by this little creek.

—Mike Vlaming, Little Creek Pottery