Daily Rituals

In the winter my daily studio rituals include staying warm, staying active and conserving water. When I enter the studio in the morning, I turn on the furnace, tune in the music and commence dancing.

As cabin fever plays a growing role in our lives, the joy of having a space where I can play loud music, leap, twirl, boogie and pirouette before I start working is an uncommon privilege. Outdoors the slushy snow on the street has turned to ice. The snow is here until Spring, and in my studio I create a watery, fishy, warm world in my pots.

Ceramics Hager Barbara
I am applying underglaze to a chalice
Photo by Eunice Pitts

After warming up, the water ritual gets underway. I decant water, lots of water; from my wash basin, my throwing pail, my brush bottles, the toxic waste buckets and the clay buckets. A large covered barrel stores clean studio water. In the winter I choose days when the temperature is above freezing to refill it with the hose. The water ritual conserves water during the winter when there are just a few days above freezing. To decant water, patience, calm and a slow pour are necessary. That separated water goes into the mop bucket. When the mop water generates a skim of clay on the floor, I decant it onto the studio garden and refill the containers with clean water from the barrel. I am grateful to live in Minnesota where there is so much water.

With a calm and steady hand, I applied underglaze to a couple of covered jars, several cups and chalices this week. After I have been still too long or feel cold, I make clay, or throw pots or make glazes. Mixing clay and wedging it, throwing pots and making glazes are all practices I have followed for almost forty years. These practices are meditational. I made terra sigilata and mixed and wedged a half-ton of clay in the past few days. When I started working with clay I had no idea that I would meditate while moving a mountain of clay and a lake.

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