The New Year always brings with it the daunting effort of keeping New Year’s resolutions. Most of us make those and they typically involve an improvement in health, relationships, removing clutter, etc. I am one of those who establish a resolution but after a period of time I lose the motivation to keep it as a focus. However, a few years ago I resolved to learn how to make a bowl in our ceramics lab. I finally enrolled in Dustin Farmer’s class and found I really enjoyed working with the clay and I particularly enjoyed throwing on the wheel. What I also learned was that Dustin has incredible patience with a novice and that he has great knowledge and passion about the art of ceramics. He knows the types of clays, where they originated, and their best use; he knows who developed different glazes and why they were developed; he knows the history of ancient ceramics and the most recent develops in the styles of ceramics that are the latest trend – yes he is quite knowledgeable and a very good teacher of his craft.

What Dustin didn’t realize (and I learned a little about myself as well) is that I do not like to make mistakes and not finish a project. During my first semester in the class I was able to complete a mask and a small bowl but my teapot and other bowls were soon dispatched to the “slip bucket” and trash can. The next session I made another mask and a vase (but I didn’t get the vase glazed before the end of the semester). So another semester started and I did get the vase glazed and tried to make a few more bowls including combining two bowls. Unfortunately, all of my bowls cracked when they were fired and the glaze never fully worked on my vase. So after three semesters of a ceramics class I have two masks and a couple of small bowls to show for my efforts.

I told Dustin last week that I wasn’t enrolling again this semester because it was too frustrating – not being able to come to a complete finished product was just too much of a stress for me and I took the class to enjoy the art of ceramics. I think Dustin understood but he kept telling me that making mistakes and tossing out a broken bowl was part of learning the art.

I learned a lot from that experience – I like throwing clay but not the frustration with the chance the finished product might not turn out as anticipated – and that our faculty do an incredible job of working on a daily basis with students from all perspectives. I learned that I was fortunate to finally get a chance to throw on a wheel and that at some point I want to try it again. I also learned a little “Life Lesson” through that experience – trying something new may not be a perfect experience and yet it can be very rewarding. I was able to meet some students in the class that I may not have met otherwise, and I developed a new found respect for art instructors (and their patience).

Best of luck to you as you work on achieving your new year’s resolutions in 2011.