Taking Orders

My answer is “don’t!” I stopped taking orders when I turned 50. It was a present to myself. There was always a compromise that I was asked to make and I put off doing the order because I never really wanted to do it anyways so my attempt was half hearted and the finished product was less than it deserved to be. Then there was the kiln that sensed my lack of commitment to the order and it would deliver a crack, a booger, a bad firing. Always there was something. One plate meant making 3 just to be sure. One cup for a man with a big nose meant making 2.
My long distance friend Vicki Hamilton made a comment on my blog

“Makes me wish I had you and Mac as mentors when I was very young and the path(with obstacles) was still in front of me. Here I am 75 years old and taking orders for berry bowls. “

Dear Vicki: My Aunt Cavvy worked until she was 94 so you have a good solid 20 years ahead of you. You don’t need me as a mentor. You need to mentor yourself.  You are a skilled maker. Can you afford to say “No”?  If so here is the road(with obstacles) I set you out on. Make only the pots you want to make  for the next 20  years! Now you are wondering what pots they are.  For me they are the ones I would buy.
Here is my philosophy on teaching the very best of my students. Anyone can lead a horse to water but if you can get a horse to try to float on it’s back you really have done something.
 I think this is what happens when you say” no “
to what the market demands and make what is in your heart. It’s damn near impossible unless you have independent means. I’m just wrapping up the last of my slab plates that I would never buy but they ain’t bad. Sometimes we have down days where doing something mindless is good for us. I do these on those days. I just don’t want to be creative that day but I know I need to work and get something made. It is a problem if that persists into becoming all you do with your career.
Life always delivers the fresh energy you need to change into what you must become.- Rob Breszney.
So here is another obstacle for you Vicki- make me a killer berry bowl that I would want to buy.
I just gave you an order. Here is your answer to me “ That’s a very good idea, Tony but I don’t want to do it!”


Vicki Hamilton said…
T, thanks for the nudge, the challenge and the heads up. In 2009 I said I would go to La Meridiana and do a workshop with you in 2010. I had no idea how that was going to happen, and then I took an order: 20 place settings, serving pieces, appetizer plates, covered tea mugs, teapots, curry bowls and 2 covered casseroles. That's how I got to go to Italy. That was 8 years ago. I suppose I still have it in me. Oh wait! I KNOW I HAVE IT IN ME! You might have to wait a bit for that killer berry bowl!
Anonymous said…
Hey Tony, 3 more years and my retirement investments will start paying me not to work so much. At that time I shall stop taking orders, but until then I can’t complain, 90% of my biz is custom orders. That has paid the mortgage, put money in retirement accounts, etc. I’ve no regrets and I have a really clear direction I will move in when the magic day arrives and I no longer need to do custom work. Unlike you though I really enjoy the custom orders and the financial rewards associated. To each their own, cheers, Owen in Oregon
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Catherine Jarosz said…
Praying it’s an easy surgery! My right hand ( wrist had arthritis so bad the gasket between it and the hand was gone and slipped to the side bone on bone with a huge cat spur that had grown into a spot . They cut a tendon and brought it down to use as a gasket . 6 month recovery before allowed to work haha ( I was younger and don’t listen ) hope yours is an easy fix with less recovery!
I just got the all clear to return to work last week after this latest surgery in mid January and I did out of necessity sit out 6 weeks ( tubes out of belly and high on opioid s helped ) but that’s all the wait I could handle . Be well friend and hope I have opportunity to meet you again one day ! Missing your trip was my biggest disappointment this year .
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