When I told people I was taking a ceramics class in Florence, all they said was, “How are you going to get it all home?” I’m glad that getting things home didn’t deter me from taking the class, because it’s one of my favorites.
Monday mornings from 9-2:30 I play with clay, unless we flit about the city getting “inspirations”, getting espressos and gelato as a class, or visiting ceramic supply shops. Ray, our professor, is trained in wood and ceramic restoration, and has been teaching for a few years. He’s the most charismatic and encouraging person I’ve ever met, no exaggeration. He gives us a direction for the day, such as “create a bowl” or “mix two colors of clay”, and beyond that, we’re free to create whatever we want.
Today, I sculpted the lips of The David. Ray has a mold from one of the two copies of The David in Italy. I started sculpting the chin, then the lips, feeling around for slight declines or a soft ridge. Turns out David has some pretty luscious lips. His top lip fuller than his lower lip, and both corners of his mouth pull back a bit, like he’s about to smile. I sculpted this small portion (about 6x6) of The David for almost 3 hours, and I’m not done. I get to go back tomorrow during studio hours and play there as long as I like.
Most days, we have a project to complete, but last week, we walked into class and Ray told us we were going on a fieldtrip. We grabbed out jackets and walked to Santo Spirito church to get “inspirations.” This was short-lived however, and our small class sat around a table near the church sipping cappuccinos. Then we visited a ceramic supply store and picked out new glaze colors, and on the way back from there, we got gelato. You could assume that we wasted a day milling around Florence, but I learned more about Ray and Italian culture in those few short hours than I would have about ceramics in the studio.
What I like about Ray is this: today I asked him what his wife did for a living, and he launched into a 20-minute story about how he and his wife met. You never know what answer to what question you’re going to get with Ray. This, I love.
I also love the idea of creating something. I’ve always loved that. I also like using my hands, evidenced by my affinity for drawing, knitting, jewelry making, etc. And I liked ceramics, but today, for some reason, sculpting is what did it for me. I have lots of free time here, so I could feasibly spend hours in the studio, which I just might do.
So, for all you skeptics out there: I will be bringing David’s lips home. How, you ask? Very carefully. And I just might kiss them as soon as their fired and glazed. Just watch me.