A Lasting Impression: Hot Out of the Kiln for January 2015

Textured porcelain hand-built teabowl with celadon glaze in front of three bisqued impressed texture tiles, all by Kathryn McBride.


Although I’ve done so a few times, I find it confounding to write about my longtime ceramics mentor,  Kathryn McBride, who died in February, 2012.  Later that year I wrote “What Dreams May Come” about receiving a heartwarming bit of understanding and resolution. Last year I wrote “The Apron” about taking on one of her physical mantles. Regardless of my meager written output, she daily abides in me physically, mentally and spiritually.

Physically: I have many of her tools and materials. And I use them!

Mentally: I call a woven basket she gave me her “In Basket.” It contains small trinkets of hers and when I really need to tell her something, I write it down and put it there, smiling to myself.

Spiritually: Her Christmas Card from December 2011 reappeared a few weeks ago, full of loveliness and hope,  speaking about the coming spring she did not yet know she would never see.

Or the spring after that and the spring after that.

And the spring on its way. *SIGH*

As these springs have come and gone, it is obvious that essences of Kathryn’s influence abide in legions of folks. I say bully for that because it means my grief and my amazement reside in a common pool of tears.  A frozen pool  on which I’ve been skating by my lonely, mostly unaware of the others gliding by.

Yet, this metaphoric winter has given way and the pool is thawing. Sorrow has found solace in company, shared stories, gifts and meaningful action.

I see the big story about all of us in my friend Karen Hansen’s repost of a piece she wrote about Kathryn’s Memorial. We are in good company with our shared experiences and lasting impressions. (Just look at that smile.)

The celadon teabowl of Kathryn’s in the photo up top was sent to me, absolutely unexpectedly, by a former student of hers, who wrote, “I knew you would cherish it beyond anyone I know.” I am dumbfounded by this gift and don’t expect to ever NOT be. It’s arrival sent me looking through my piles of K’s texture plates, thinking maybe I would find the one from which the teabowl was made. No luck there, but I came across some beauties, all the while recalling how she excitedly would take impressions from interesting objects that entered the ceramics studio: embossed leather, fancy art papers, woven mats, and of course of dried plants. The texture plates and the porcelain will be around for, well, perhaps tens of thousands of years, such is the nature of ceramic work.  A literal form of a lasting impression!

And, lastly,  the solace of meaningful action comes from the arrival of a lovely new clay haven in town.  Created by my friend John Albrecht,  Good Life Ceramics  is opening this month.  A bundle of healing is about to be delivered to us all. A new place to DO and find “creative confidence.”

With devotion, I will spend my longer next blog post exploring what Good Life Ceramics means to me and my tribe – with photos!

–Liz Crain, who just loves that the phrase “a lasting impression” turns out to have so many facets of meaning.

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