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Being Okay With Loss

People have such different views on loss, especially if it's something we've created.  I'll bet your mom kept some art of yours for many years, even long after it became an embarrassment. We become attached to our creative works because we put something of ourselves into them.  It's hard to lose a bit of yourself every time a piece doesn't work out as we planned.  We don't see it as part of the growing process.

Pottery has a high loss rate.  The pot have plenty of opportunities to break throughout the entire process of making.  They break during construction, explode in the bisque kiln or crack in the glaze kiln.  If they survive all of this and look good they get dropped.  We had one member at Mudfire who had tremendous bad luck getting her pots from the kiln room to her car, she seemed to drop every pot.  Finally one day she made it out of the studio without dropping her piece.  She was so excited that she dropped the pot at her front door.  All she could do was laugh.

Pottery with Horse Hair Decoration by Lori Buff
Horse Hair Raku Pot

It can be hard, it can be discouraging, or we can realize that it's not about that piece.  It's about the process that gets us there.  I was discussing this with an artist friend one day.  He is a potter but he's worked in various media during his life.  He loves pottery but he also say "pottery is what I can let go of easiest."  Not that he wants to give up being a potter, but when a piece isn't right or when a piece breaks, he can detach from it easier.  Maybe it's something to do with handling the clay.  Maybe it has something to do with the journey, not the destination.

 How do you deal with loss?

Don't forget to check out the other potters of the world on Mudcolony and on my blog roll.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff


  1. Sometimes I am really disappointed if it's a one of a kind piece. I have learned to let go of pots fired in a wood kiln. There are so many variable that you have to put them in the kiln and accept the risk. BTW - love that horse hair raku pot!

    1. Thanks Michèle. Wood kilns are especially hard, but if you get one good pot it's so good that it's worth all the sacrifice.

  2. Once I started sharing my losses on my blog and hearing of other potter's losses I didn't feel as bad as I used to. Also the more pottery success I have the less the losses affect me.

  3. My first pottery teacher would make us cut our work in half to study the construction and she would make us give up the really ugly ones (not really "make" us but strongly suggest it!) It was a good lesson in giving up the clay early on. I have no problem smashing pots, and if one gets broken as often happens around here thanks to my husband, grrr, I just shrug it off, what are you going to do? The past can't be changed, only the future.

    1. That's actually a great way to learn Tracey, but really, really hard for students to do. Good for you for doing it.


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