mantra on this venture: be in the moment, be present
After seeing a Facebook friend’s multiple posts about mosaic & pottery classes in Central, Trinidad (bonus for me because I live in Central & everything is usually in West), I decided to register for the two-day Raku firing course. I was looking for any chance to engage in my artistic side. I drove up to Ajoupa Gardens in Freeport, surrounded by lush, green forest.
I instantly felt at peace in this environment. It was 9AM, the beautiful birds of T&T were singing, the plants were alive with greenery & the breeze was cool & soft. I met Bunty & Rory O’Connor – the owners of this beautiful place & the instructors of the course. They were lovely. Bunty gave us a tour of the property and showed us the tremendous biodiversity that exists within her garden – the trees, the birds, she even has a fish pond! – it was beautiful.
The course consisted of four others and myself. The course started out with us getting a feel for the clay, emptying our minds and entering a state of peace before starting to make anything. We were instructed to “make whatever you feel in the moment, do not think about it, just do”. I emptied my mind, and my hands began to move. This calmed me because I came into the course set on perfection – perfection is a no; just do.
My pieces don’t look like they would win some prize, or be sold at an auction (lol), but I am a beginner at the craft, and I am proud of my work. Ya gotta start somewhere, right?
After we crafted our 12 pieces, it was time for lunch. We were instructed to bring our own lunches, however some food was provided – it was like a potluck. There was quiche, freshly baked bread, salad, lime juice and chutney.
After a delicious lunch & fulfilling conversation about cocoa in T&T, we headed back to work. It was time to conceptualize and sculpt our final pieces. I had a blank space in my head when it came to my final piece. Would I make a mug, a bowl, art? Then, for some reason I was transported back to my childhood where my mother had a ceramic turtle that held sweeties in our living room. I decided to use that as inspiration for my next piece.
After about 2 hours, my turtle began to look like I envisioned it – with a few tweaks here & there. I was overall happy with the outcome. I left Ajoupa Gardens that day full of inspiration, and excitement. Excitement to see my piece after it had been fired, and to return the following Sunday to glaze my baby up! 🙂
The second Sunday couldn’t have come fast enough. I was so ready to glaze my turtle and just be in that space again. I arrived and saw a layout of everyone’s pieces – it was great.
Today was the day to glaze and fire. We picked our least favorite pieces to glaze first so we could have an idea of the colors. We were warned that Raku firing is experimental and what you see in the colors is not always what you get. I was ready.
We glazed, then fired. Glazed, then fired. Glazed, then fired.
Then we ate. This Sunday was chicken salad, veggie lasagna, freshly baked bread, tossed salad, with the usual lime juice. We also had some desserts – brownies, banana bread, mangoes, coffee and tea. Someone brought beer (aye!).
After lunch, we glazed and fired some more. We saw our pieces from the first couple of rounds. It was really cool to see the different combinations of colors.
I was happy with the color of my pieces – even though now I think I could have worked more on the shapes. But maybe uniformity is not my style.
The colors and textures in these pieces impressed me so much. Of course after finishing my pieces I had to play with the dogs. I can’t help myself. Look how precious.
No better way to spend a Sunday.
I left Ajoupa Gardens feeling inspired, joyous, & ready to create more! Thank you, O’Connors. Till next time.