By Wendy Wing
Published by WendyWing.com
November 1, 2001; 0-9718-8340-8; 220 pages
The ceramics area was detached from the rest of the school. Built against the back of the school, it was barely what I would consider indoors. It was a cement building with a metal roof. If it werent for the ceramics equipment I would have thought it was a stable. The wheels we would throw the pottery on were manual. In other words, they were huge, antique looking tall tables with large stone wheels parallel to the ground that you had to continuously kick with one foot.
We gathered around a Mexican man quietly working on a large vase. A cigarette hung from his mouth, the ashes long and threatening to fall at any given moment. He kicked the wheel with his clay splattered bare foot and pulled his fingers through the column of clay. One hand was on the outside, the other buried deep inside the vase. With one pass his clay grew six inches. We all stared in awe. Taking no conscious notice of the growing crowd of students around him, he wet the spinning clay with a dirty sponge. The water made the clay shine and look sleek. With another pass of his hands inside and outside of the large vase he made it change form and belly in and out. His hands were deft and sure, and the clay obeyed. When he got to the top of the vase, he closed the opening to a one-inch diameter.
From where the man sat high on his barstool he kicked the wheel several times and took a moment to look at his creation. His clay-covered fingers carefully took what remained of the cigarette, tapped the ashes off, and replaced the stub into his mouth. He selected one of the various odd looking tools from his tabletop. Choosing several areas over the surface of the vase to create lines and ridges, he made the vase take on a character all its own. It was magical. I had never seen something so beautiful created so quickly and with such ease. Finally he stopped and looked around at the eager faces watching him, the vase he just created still spinning in its perfection before us.
Hello class, he said with a thick accent. Id like to welcome you to beginning ceramics. Your first lesson today is to not get too emotionally attached to what you are creating. With that said he stuck his finger through the beautiful vase spinning in front of him. It crumpled, and pieces of it whipped off, falling into the splash tray. We all gasped. How could he ruin something so brilliant?
Man, said Craig. Whyd you do that? It was perfect.
it was nice. I agree. He took what little was left of his cigarette
and dropped it on the floor, stepping on it with his bare foot. But
you need to learn from the start--there are many steps in the pottery
throwing process where your creations can be destroyed. You could lose
a piece if it dries too quickly and cracks, or in the kiln, or after glazing.
You must treat each piece carefully but not religiously. He smiled
at each one of us. His easy smile created lines in his face making me
believe he wore his happy grin often. I guessed he was about ten years
older than me. Please, everyone, pick a seat and we will get started.
There are aprons at each station, but usually they are hanging at the
door. That is where you will place them when you finish here today.
Reprinted with permission. (back to top)
April's pretty sure of herself, despite only being twenty. A winter term in Mexico sounds like a cakewalk towards earning her college degree while she soaks up the rays, takes a couple classes and parties it up. Instead she's faced with questions about whether her mother's prejudices have soaked into her soul, feeling the scars of her father's abandonment, and with her Discman breaking she's left unable to escape the constant chatter of her annoying roommates. The guy she likes uses her to get the attention of someone else--and that's just the first week of her four-week journey. April finds counsel and the confidence to be the person she wants to be in an unlikely friend, when what should have been a cakewalk turns into an upside-down cake, twisting her life towards a new direction.
Wendy Wing lives in Colorado where she is a full time mother of two children under the age of three. This is her first self-published book though she has written several other stories that are much worse. Wendy enjoys running, hiking, biking, going on dates with her husband and getting an occasional full night of sleep, children willing. Wendy graduated from DePauw University as a painter, though her greatest accomplishment to date is finding out how to remove raspberry juice stains from her carpet.