Friday July 27. 2001
a Word Goddess collab : a day in the life
a day in the studio
It was a Friday. I didn't have to be up early for class. Nevertheless I woke at around 8 am like I had the past few weeks. I rolled over. 8:02.
The phone rang. 8am? Christ.
I foolishly picked it up, and for the next 20 minutes listened to a very nice woman named Vanessa trying to sell me on some sort of long distance. I extricated myself painfully. I really must learn to say "no" in less than 20 minutes.
No particular place to go. I found myself in the studio at around 11 o'clock, simply because I had some porcelain sitting on a plaster block that I didn't want turning into a dried mess. The only person there when I came in was Prinda, a grad student who's from Thailand. The door to her small studio was open and I could see her working. As I passed, I breathed in the delicious smells that always seemed to be emanating from her room. It smelled as if there was some sort of delicate pastry baking in there, though I think it was only incense.
I surprised myself by settling down to throw some of the porcelain on the wheel. I decided to do another reliquary. I've been getting kind of obsessed with the idea of reliquaries lately. They were ornamental containers used in the middle ages to house the relic of a saint or martyr (like their skull, a piece of hair, the bones of a forefinger). Christians would make pilgrimages to see these relics, and in return for their tourism money, the Church would grant them the Christian equivalent of good karma.
So I am making a series of reliquaries, only they will be space age reliquaries, relating to the time and culture in which they're being made. Which brings me to the question: what are today's relics? What are people making journeys to see and paying homage to in hope of some spiritual enlightenment and inspiration?
I posed this very question to John a couple days ago, and he answered, "Madonna." Which is not really the answer I was looking for, but fits perfectly.
So I worked for a few hours. Various ceramics majors and people in my class came in and out throughout the day. Donna, another one of the grad students, was passing by.
"Have you eaten yet?" she asked.
So we went out to get some food. After some debate, we decided on Chinese.
As we were walking to the car, Donna asked, "Are you sure they put forks in the bag?"
"Of course. They always do."
"But we didn't ask for them..."
"They always do. They have to, how else are we going to eat it?"
I had a pint of chicken fried rice and pork dumplings. Donna, Peter (my teacher for this course), and I sat out on the rickety picnic table outside the studio to eat, only upon opening the bag to discover there were in fact no utensils. So that sent the three of us on a mad hunt through the studio to find forks. Donna and I managed to find one each (though mine was caked with clay and had to be scrubbed), but Peter had to make do with chopsticks.
Later on that night, Jury showed up to work. I was still seated in the middle room, which is the glaze room, affixed to my usual seat, putting the finishing touches on the reliquary when she asked, "Do you drink beer?"
Bethany, you hate beer... "Yeah."
"You wanna go get a six pack? I need someone to come with me to the Korean stores. I don't want to risk getting mugged."
So we drove down to the small strip of Korean stores, which included a shady billiard hall, various Chinese restaurants and trashy places to get beer.
"What kind do you like?" she asked, as we were standing in front of the case.
"Uh....Yuengling." Bethany, you don't know shit about beer. You could be drinking rat piss, for all you know. I wanted to get wine coolers or something more tasty, but Jury was buying, so I didn't want to impose.
Once back to school, I opened a bottle and continued working. The only people left were Jury, Peter and I in the main room, and Donna was working back in her studio.
"Ok, 10 o'clock is Dr. Dre hour!" Peter shouted, and turned off Ani DiFranco, muttering something about whiny chick music. He carefully chose the most offensive song and turned it way up.
I eventually wandered back to Donna's room, where she was busy working on one of her large life size female figures. Her work is very interesting. All the figures she makes have such distinct personalities. Mostly, though, they seem very lonely and isolated and lost in their own little worlds.
I was nearly done with my beer. I swilled the last dregs around the bottom, contemplated it for a moment, and then remarked to Donna, "I don't even like beer."
"Why did you get it then?"
"Oh, Jury bought it. Otherwise I would've gotten something else.."
Pause. I watched her work for a bit more.
"Well, I think I'm heading out now."
"You gonna be here on Monday?"
"No...probably on Tuesday or Wednesday."
"Okay...have a good weekend, then."
"Yup. You too."
And I left shortly after, after nine and a half hours of work. Just a usual day. My reliquary, made of pure white porcelain clay, was finished. I like the form it has, I think I'm going to continue to work on it. It looks like a small white space ship has landed on my counter. I smiled slightly at it as I walked out.
One Year Ago:
"I pulled open the dark stained wooden door. The brass handle was slightly sticky. The small lobby was permeated with the scent of bathroom. The architecture was all clean lines, stainless steel, mint green and white."