I love clay. I love it so very much. Ask my poor husband – there have been several times over the years when I’ve had to take a break from creating for any number of reasons, and he has to deal with my melancholy fallout. Ceramics has this amazing, rich history that tracks all over the globe, and working with clay has always made me feel as if I were a part of that history, too. So the first time I saw this New York Times article pop up in my news feed, I was a little… confused? embittered? dare I say outraged?“While terrariums, Edison bulb light fixtures and fixed-gear bicycles have all enjoyed moments of demarcating cool, handcrafted small-batch ceramics are suddenly the accessory of the moment.”
Who, who were these hipsters that were taking this thing that I loved, this uncool, sort of hippie-ish, wonderful thing and making it TRENDY??? And why were they doing it now? Doesn’t everyone knows that the minute something starts to be trendy, it begins its slow descent into untrendy? I felt like they (this unnamed, man-bunned they) were stealing something that I held sacred, like when your favorite deep track starts to gets airplay and suddenly everyone else is singing along.
Well, it’s been nearly a year since that article came out, and it’s popped back up in my news feed periodically over that time. In the past week, it’s had a bit of a resurgence, with no less than 3 separate people posting it in my favorite Facebook clay community. And by the 5th or 6th time I scowled past it, I had a bit of a revelation.
Not only was I overreacting, but I was missing out on embracing a moment in history by being such a big baby. Somehow I’d missed the parallel to the craft movements that sprang up in response to the Industrial Revolution, a period in the decorative arts and architecture that I dearly love. Lordy, show me some Charles Rennie Mackintosh, or William Morris, Frank Lloyd Wright, and I’m a happy girl. If those artists were so important to me, why was I being so resistant to the current movement, of artists and craftsman embracing the handmade over the mass-produced Walmartesque fodder that’s become so ubiquitous?
The truth is, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s jealousy that this group of people seem to so easily fallen into success when I’ve, if I’m being honest, struggled to find my voice. Maybe it’s that there are resources available now that just weren’t around when I first started. Maybe it’s that they seem so young and unencumbered while I’m moving in the opposite direction. Maybe it’s a little of all of these things, but does it matter? If this field that I love is suddenly enjoying a moment in the limelight, then everyone involved progresses. The more people there are that love this thing along with me, then the more people there are to advance the field and make new discoveries, and inspire each other along the way, and that is a very, very good thing. Is it hipster? Is it a short-lived trend? Who knows? Certainly not me. But I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.