Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Potter's Plights?

There are plights with every job. Some are obvious: construction workers' backs, a waitress' irritating customers who send everything back or their feet, a computer programmer's wrists, or a plein-air painter's eyes (cataracts!). And some are not so obvious. I find it fascinating to understand those aspects of other people's jobs, the things that we wouldn't think to empathize with.

A potter, other than the usual "I'm an artist" plights, have some odd afflictions.

1. My middle finger, ring finger, and pinkie on my right hand are constantly scraping the wheel head. Because of that, my finger nails on those fingers are worn down on the right hand corners making for an odd feeling, odd looking set of nails. No fussing about broken nails here!

2. The muscle between my thumb and forefinger is awesome. Ok, really its just that I can flex it and its hard. Yes, rather like what I wish my biceps were, my thumb muscle IS. What IS that muscle called?!

3. Many older potters suffer from Silicosis, a disease from the silica in clay and glazes. They did not realize the dangers (or have OSHA regulations!) back in the day, and breathed in things that we mask well now (or should). Basically you suffocate slowly from the silica partials that attach to your lung walls. A famous potter, Warren Mackenzie, is suffering from this now.

4. Potters often have arthritis in their hands, wrists, or elbows.

5. I often have hands and nails stained from the materials with which I work and have to struggle to clean them or some how cover them for my serving job which does NOT allow for hands like that!

What are some of the interesting plights in YOUR job?!

[Lucie Rie's hands shown in picture above]


  1. i'm going blind b/c i stare at my computer all day. lame, but true.

  2. I used to have that really strong muscle in between my thumb and forefinger and constant plastiline under my nails when I was sculpting. Also, I am on my feet a lot in the studio and danskos have saved the day.

  3. hmmm... mother of newborn twins: don't want to be touched. ever. by anyone. would like a cone of silence. slightly sweaty all the time.

  4. I don't ever really have pain as a flute player. Some flutist have various back and shoulder pain or loss of hearing in their right ear from repetitive high notes.

    For me the one thing that I think is kind of funny is that I have a permanent indent on my left index finger between the joint and first knuckle because that is where my flute rests.

  5. i love hearing your responses!

    sarah, how about the plights of having a new 2 year old?! :)

    andersonrc1, you're hilarious.

    emily, that permanent indent I can totally envision. I think I had something similar when I was an English major at finals time: writing, writing, writing... But that's fascinating about the loss of hearing. I never would've thought of that.