Spring morning in Tye River, Virginia. Sun just up and my wife Linda out the door. Ron Philbeck, a potter from Shelby, NC arrived last night and is still sleeping upstairs. Ron is here to rendezvous with Dan Finnegan and three visiting potters Dan hosted at his Libertytown Arts Center, where they gave a workshop on English slipware. The presenters were Doug Fitch- Devon England, Hannah McAndrew- Scotland, and Angela Walford- South Australia. They’ll arrive for lunch and then be carried by Ron to Seagrove, NC to continue their rapid immersion in American clay culture.
Meeting Ron for the first time last night, we turned over the many issues potters everywhere chew on, including blogs; of which I am both ignorant and skeptical. I found Ron so good-natured and informed and up to his hips in the blogosphere that my skepticism softened.
Later in the morning, my apprentices, Lisa York and Susannah Goodman, arrived and we began prepping the workshop for 3 days of wadding. Ron pitched in and raised the bar for wadding conversation.
I invited Nan Rothwell, old friend and fellow potter, to the impromptu gathering. Lunch was 3 hours of food, tea and talk of all things clay. Doug, Hannah and Angela proved to be the best of company; engaging, curious and open. While standing in my workshop, Doug mentioned that he’d never seen a hummingbird, just as the first one of the season landed on the window feeder. Doug motioned for Angela and Hannah to join him and there they were – three potters having just crossed an ocean, mesmerized by this tiny bird, just arrived from Panama, staring at them. Good as it gets.
After kiln talk and trading tales and pots, Ron herded his charges for the haul South. Dan said his reluctant farewells and then they were gone. The workshop suddenly quiet. I felt a tribal connection to those potters I may never see again. Grace.
We put dishes and teapot away and returned to our wadding; touched and changed by the intimacy of this community of makers. I recall Ron telling me that the English Slipware event was made possible by their blogging relationship. If blogging is capable of making afternoons like this possible – I’m in. Peace, Kevin Crowe