Thursday, September 17, 2009

Spanish Boots of Spanish Leather

My sister is in Spain doing an apprenticeship with Seth Cardew. She has been blogging about her experience here. Her current post is just lovely! I'm going to repost it here:

I'm waiting for a friend at a local gas station. A beautiful tree next to me has large oval leaves with an incredibly fabric-like crinkle to them. There are vines growing around the root of the tree, bursting from the cement that surrounds it and I just noticed that there are grapes hanging from these vines. The land is prolific!

I love to go for runs and take long walks. There are endless directions for my expeditions around the Masia (the term for a cluster of houses). I usually end up in groves of almonds or olives where the earth is churned up regularly by local farmers. This loosens the dense clay and rock around the trees and rids the tree of its competitions -- weeds. The trees all have curious growth patterns very carefully monitored (or in some cases not so carefully) by the farmers. Branches are pruned so that the nutrients can flow well to the fruits. Each tree has branches that reach out, droop down, and splay back up with the fruits popping out all over. Its interesting to think about the process of trimming off fresh, healthy growth in order to achieve morefruits in the future. That takes a serious amount of trust in the process and foresight.

Last week Seth introduced me to his way of making pitchers. They are rounded bodies with taller, straighter necks than I'm used to. After watching him throw once I sat down to my second teacher, the wheel. Well, I spent the day with these blasted forms and had three mediocre ones to show for it by the end. I was so frustrated and disappointed that once Seth left the studio I sat down on one of the rickety old chairs (that almost toppled) and cried pitiful tears. All work has its frustrating days and art is no different. I had run out of steam completely.

I was being pruned. Painfully and laboriously. I had mentioned to Seth that I was having a hard time. He merely said to keep throwing and there would eventually be that moment of light ... hopefully. I just stood there with my eyebrows raised and mouth open. That was it.

So, I threw more. I threw smaller versions at Seth's suggestion and then upped the weight as I felt more comfortable. Yesterday I threw some. I asked Seth, who isn't one to come checking up on me, to come look. My form was a bit rounder than his but echoed the idea quite well. I was ready for his short comment on what was wrong, ready for a good pruning but got almonds instead! He said thoughtfully, yes, yes thats quite nice. Different but rather nice. Maybe that will be the new Albadas (the name of his casa) syle.

It was brief and not much but it was growth. My eyes popped and heart fluttered. I wonder if thats how the trees feel as the almonds finally emerge?

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