Amazing how 42 days can pass by so quickly.
It definitely didn’t hit me quite just yet when I woke up that morning. Snuggled in the most comfortable bed and blanket… not wanting things to change. It’s always a strange feeling of wanting things to be as they are… but also wanting things to get better. And there’s no way of keeping the same state forever.
Packed tons of activity into that day as usual. Was supposed to pay a visit to T-san’s studio. It felt a bit like coming full circle, since I’d visited his studio on the very first night that I’d arrived, with F who had bought some of his items. This time, I was hoping to get some porcelain items for myself as well and was especially glad that L decide to go with me to visit him as well, since Sensei then decided he’d give us a lift over. ^^;; Probably took pity on us finding our way over in the hot sun.
What a treat, seeing how T-san works in his studio! It’s a small space but enough to create a whole array of beautiful items. I love seeing workspaces and getting ideas for what I could possibly realistically create for myself as well. Where he works is an area with many rental studios and he shares a common kiln with other artists. Perhaps because Sensei was there that day, he showed us a bit of his work process. Trimming then making these incredibly beautiful delicate lines through a porcelain cup. I was so amazed by the speed at which he got his chuck and cup centered. It was so quick and so steady. The smoothness at which he was able to trim the piece was pretty riveting a sight to see. I wonder if he felt nervous that Sensei was also watching but probably when you reach a certain level of competency, things like trimming and centering are really as second nature as breathing. It was cool seeing his line up of handmade Dragonfly measures. While I looked through his pieces, he generously served us some freshly brewed coffee, which though he says was very average, I felt was incredibly delicious. Possibly also because the porcelain cup I was drinking out of was incredibly gorgeous.
What I found to be priceless though, were not just the tips he provided on testing out glazes (e.g. making glazes in very small batches at a time and testing various pieces, observing for transparency as well by using a line of cobalt blue and seeing how it gets affected by the glaze), the tricks he shared with us on creating his works (usually a type of Sumi/charcoal to demarcate the line for trimming his pieces because that fires off in the kiln even though it’s on a porcelain body), by the real life inspiration he provided. For someone like me, still grappling and grasping for a foundation and looking always for ways to move forward, it helped on an emotional level, seeing a young artist at work. And perhaps it also provided encouragement to me when I heard that he works at another job 4 days a week, and does this the rest of the time. Similar to S-san’s husband who works at the Nabe pot factory. These are incredible artists creating beautiful works of their own but who still need to work another job. I suppose on one level I always think reluctantly of the other job I would definitely have to resume when I get back home eventually but to know that there are people like them out there, working hard and still being able to create their works as artists… it’s something that I’ll turn to time and again for motivation.
Walked a long route back to the station where we caught a bus back to the studio. Went into this cafe with L that I’d always been curious to try out ever since arriving in Seto. For reasons unexplainable, it’s called Cafe de N.N.W. Pretty standard Japanese style Western food there and I really enjoyed my plate of Spaghetti Neapolitan that came on a hot plate.
Back at the studio, there began the mammoth task of packing everything left. M-san helped a great deal with packing my items into a cardboard box that could be shipped directly to the airport. In fact, my main luggage too was also shipped to the airport so it really took a huge load off my shoulders, not having to lug that bloody heavy suitcase all the way to Tokyo.
Sensei mentioned some idiom in Japanese to me that I didn’t quite catch but he said it was about the importance of not leaving a mess behind. ^^;; I caught his hint, and backtracked to the studio to really clean out all the random bits of stuff that I’d been using halfway…washed off paintbrushes with slip in them… returned items to their places… cleaned up my tools to be packed…cleared out my styrofoam box with all the attempts that didn’t make it to the next stage… dumped out all those bits of red clay that I could no longer recycle… Then came the cleaning up of the room and the shared pantry I’d been using. It felt strange, seeing it almost just as clean as it had been when I’d first arrived at the studio.
I remember just before I left, M-san was teaching L how to make some deep dishes with the plaster moulds that Sensei had. Such a pang in my belly. I wanted to stay on to learn those too!! Or more like, damnn why hadn’t I asked to learn that earlier as well… But oh well. Time and place for everything.
Still didn’t quite feel anything when I waved goodbye, hugged everyone and took photos before leaving. It was only after Sensei dropped me off, drove off and I put my hand down after waving that I felt that lump in my throat. And the tears go to my eyes. Didn’t end up bawling at the station but there were some sniffles and deep breaths as the realization that this part of my ceramics journey had come to an end.
But whenever something good comes to an end, the thought in my mind is always this:
“Don’t feel sorry that it ended. Be grateful that it happened.”
Pretty sure I saw that quote on a Quotes magnet when I was still a young moody tween. 😉 It’s stuck so deeply with me ever since.
And indeed, amidst the sadness, there was even more gratitude that filled my heart as I sat on the local train towards Nagoya, ready to head to Tokyo for the next few nights, then back home.