There was a kid standing in front of the library desk the other day. She’s a nice kid. Clever. She looks at me like I’m the lamest person in the world if I tell a silly joke, then she’ll roll her eyes. But I can tell she likes it.
She asked for a page to color. I did a google search. Post-modern life has no room for the bound newsprint based pictures. Google brought up an image of an owl. “Nope, too hard” she said. Then another. Same response. I think she’s a fourth grader.
Too hard. Really? She’s not the only kid that says this. “Too hard.”
I wish I could remember what I was like in fourth grade. I wish I could teach this kid how much I enjoy doing hard things. How much value there is in the process of trying, and, sometimes, failing. That the process has value.
Granted, it’s only a coloring page. I would understand if she said boring.
I’ve been making lidded jars. Some have two lids – a flat, knobbed interior lid and a cupped exterior lid with figure on top. Some have only the cupped lid with figure. Some of the bodies of the jars have drawings. All are to some extent tests. Glaze tests. Shape tests. Lid design tests.
I’m having so much fun making these jars. Man, is it difficult. I struggle with centering the clay, making shapes that I find appealing, incorporating a narrative in the drawing, engineering a lid that fits, maintaining the integrity of the figure on top while keeping scale and proportion in mind, and applying glaze with efficiency.
Then the tail cracks, the clay warps during drying or firing, or the glaze is uneven or unappealing. But this shape is more successful than that shape. This lid fits really well. This design is visually harmonious. Next time they will be better.
We continued the search for the coloring page and settled on one that was more difficult that she liked. A little more complex. Slightly.