I believe in small.
I make small pots. Tiny planters, small cups, small bowls, low vases. Things that are small enough to hold. I make things that are meant to be held. There’s a feeling of intimacy in them. A housemate said to me that she feels different when she uses a cup or bowl that I’ve made, that there’s a feeling of self-care in it that a mass-produced bowl does not give.
I think it’s that small sense of human touch, that sense of connection to another person’s energy, that gives that feeling of specialness. I heard a ceramics professor say that cups are the most intimate piece of art that we can make. A cup is brought into contact with people’s hands and lips. That was revelatory to me. It illuminated to me that a driving force in my life is a desire to create and experience intimacy.
In pottery, it is very impressive to be able to throw with massive amounts of clay. Large vessels take up space visually, and when made well, show the potter’s skill.
Smaller things, however, can be just as difficult to make. That even with my small hands, centering and throwing a half pound is harder than centering two pounds.
A handmade cup is not impressive in the way that a ceramic sculpture or large urn or water cistern might be, but it also has a more intimate life than most art: for the most part, our lips only touch that which we hope will nourish us, and a cup gets to be part of that experience.
I think those sorts of little things are important. That life is made up of all of those very little things, the small glimmers of joy in our everyday, all the subtle ways that we can connect and feel intimacy with others.
And that is why I make small things. That is why I have grown to love making cups. And it is possible to get a lot of practice when you practice with small amounts, when you practice in small doses. Small doses add up.
I believe that small, daily reminders of human touch and human connection are important. That they help us remember that behind all things we use (especially the mass-produced items) there is human labor, human costs that get buried in the layers of our complicated economy.
Small acts are not an end in themselves. They are practice. The small connections are practice for the larger connections, broader ones, deeper ones.