I am passionate about working in clay. Passionate. I use it as a meditation, creative outlet, to show love to others, to show love to myself. The calm I feel when on the wheel is sometimes all I need to center myself during a stressful day. When people ask me what I make on the wheel, I want to say “peace” (and then I want to gag because that’s pretty darn cheesy).
I tell you this because something pretty serious happened on Saturday. My pottery wheel stopped working.
Well, it didn’t so much stop working as… well, I couldn’t throw.
I struggled so much when making the first in this new tea cup series last weekend. It was wonky and I had to work longer and with more concentration than I have in years. I thought I was having a Bad Day or had low blood sugar or the moon was in mercury so I focused on other things for a week. Then I came back and tried again and when the next two were even more difficult to throw, I realized that Something Was Wrong. At first I thought I was succumbing to fumes since I share space with my husband and he had been working on something smelly the night before. I opened the overhead doors and took a break but upon returning, my mugs were still wonky and hard to make and I was starting to think maybe, just maybe, I was having an aneurysm. Or I’d forgotten how to throw.
Midway through Saturday, neighbours came by to visit and while standing across the room, I glanced back and WOW, that wheel was hella crooked. The difference in height on each side of the wheelhead was almost a quarter inch. “Hallelujah! It’s NOT me!” I said to myself. And then it dawned on me. Or more like hit me like a bullet. THE WHEEL WAS BORKED.
My first reaction? PANIC. My second was to call everyone I know for help. Unfortunately, that “everyone” was a writer, an accountant, an office manager and my husband who, although mechanically inclined, was having one of those back-pain episodes that is best described as incapacitating. My mom was out of country but I didn’t think calling her would help because I’d just bawl into the phone. Telephoning sometimes does that to me. I called the only ceramics dealer in the area but they were already closed.
Once everyone had left, I did the only thing I could think of and I marched into the studio, grabbed a big bin of metal thingies and I started taking my motorized kickwheel apart. With TOOLS. I used a rubber mallet at one point. It was liberating and terrifying but I thought “self, it’s completely borked. It’s rotating off by at least 5 degrees. You can’t break it any more than it already is”.
I then took a bit of a break to cry. I’m not ashamed. I was so angry and panicked and generally out of my comfort zone by about a lifespan that I just had to sit for a bit. I stared at my wheel and knew she was dying. That didn’t make things any better so I imagined I was the ambulance crew and dammit, she’s not going without a fight! (plus replacing her is a minimum of $600 and that brought me to tears again so I really really needed to figure out how to save her).
I did find out what was wrong and we all scratched our heads. The entire wheelhead and flywheel mechanism was tilted in a way that the wheel didn’t shudder or wobble – it was evenly tilted but crooked enough to make throwing a struggle. But how to fix it? The husband had recovered enough by Monday to figure that the entire frame of my wheel had been twisted rather severely. Was there a tornado we’d missed? Was there a mosh pit in the studio while we were on vacation? No matter – his welding magic had my baby leveled in time to try it on Monday evening.
Throwing is easy again.
The wheel is fixed.