Throwing Pottery for Retirement

Throwing Pottery for Retirement

Retirement Income

I took a pottery class while living in Lincoln, Nebraska. My wife wanted the two us to take the full course of classes over the winter months and eventually get to the point where we fired our own creations.

This desire on her part arose from a friend on one of her indoor soccer teams who threw her own clay and fired it into beautiful ceramic pieces. She then loaded up and drove a circuit throughout the year to a number of craft shows in the mid-west.

My wife thought this would be a nice way to fund our retirement, work together and see the country while meeting interesting people. It’s was a good idea but realizing it was something else.

Honestly, neither of us gave any thought as to how physically demanding it is to actually work with, and transport pottery to craft shows. My wife and I are hard workers and even after we got an inkling of the time and effort required to produce enough pottery to sell at a reasonable profit, we were still game to try it.

However, we quickly learned a number of things. I mean, we weren’t naïve and we spoke extensively with my wife’s teammate, Charlotte, who gave us as much information and encouragement as she possibly could.

Even so, as we took the first several of our classes, we learned some important facts:

  1. Making pottery for the simple enjoyment of it is a relaxing and thoroughly pleasurable experience that does not require any special mechanical or artistic talent.
  2. It is a skill that requires a great deal of experience to master; especially to the point where the pieces produced are marketable.
  3. The potters must be physically strong and willing to work hard while repetitively lifting heavy weights in a bent-over position.
  4. Attractive and marketable pottery is produced through a combination of artistic talent, an understanding of the clay and skillful techniques on the wheel. Mastering the firing oven to produce attractive pottery is a gift bordering on black magic.
  5. The potter must be prepared to absorb the loss of a huge percentage of finished pieces simply because they do not turn out well enough to sell.

The potter must possess the physical, mental and artistic aptitude to produce pottery. Then the potter must have the skill—gained from years of experience—to know what they are doing.

My job has never been 9AM till 5PM; the nature of it is “dawn to dusk” and “can till can’t.” I didn’t have the time to dedicate to learning the craft on a daily basis and retirement was not far enough away to provide enough time for me to gain that experience.

As it is, my wife is interning with her friend and learning the craft by working with it daily. She enjoys it so far and if she does reach the point where we can sell it at craft shows, I’ll be right there with her after I retire.