Cultures

“It’s not as easy as it looks!” Well, that much was certainly true.I was
sitting at a metal wheel.I had a pedal under my right foot.If you’ve
ever used a sewing machine you know the kind of pedal I mean.There was a
lump of clay on the wheel.It spun round and round, but it wasn’t round.
My friend Carol said it was “out of round.”
“Out of round’ You can be out of sugar, or salt, but how can you be
out of round’ Is it something you can buy in the store'” “Yes and no,” said
Carol is a potter.She puts lumps of damp clay on a metal wheel,
steps on the power, and makes beautiful round pots.She said it was very
important to start with the clay “centered” or the pot would be lopsided.
Right now lopsided sounded good enough, but she said it should be round.
Carol centered the clay for me, and slowed the wheel down.After a
couple of tries, I managed to pull up some sides.I wasthrowing a pot.”
The words made sense to me.I could see someone wanting to just throw the
“Show me something you’ve made,” I said.I looked around the studio.
There were shelves and shelves of pots other people had made, and they were
all round.None of them were “out of round.”
Carol said, “Actually your pots don’t have to be round.” “But if they
don’t have to be round, how come every pot in this room is round'” There
were some on display, made by exert potters, that weren’t round.But even
they looked like they started round and then had things added on to them.
So then Carol told me that in Japan, the most respected potters
deliberately throw out of round.She said she hadn’t understood that until
she went to a Japanese garden and looked around.Nothing in the Japanese
garden was round or symmetrical.The trees grew in odd directions.They
put rocks in sections of sand.The rock wasn’t round, and the sand garden
wasn’t round, and that was part of the point…

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