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talent? where'd i catch it?

updated fri 20 aug 04


Gary Navarre on thu 19 aug 04

Hay Crew,
I think I was first diagnosed at the end of my junior high schooling
when our final project was to draw and make a free form piece out of
clay. My mom still has one of those soap dishes. I made two, must have
been thinking production already. I got an "A".
In that class room was a bicycle powered potters wheel. Some of the kids
got on it and would peddle like hell to see how fast they could get it
going until the teacher caught them and none of us could try it. I
really wanted to have a go but she told me they had wheels at the high
school we were moving to that coming January. So in addition to the
college prep. program I signed up for the art major program. Even then I
had to do some basic classes and wait till the next January to get to do
a clay project. I thought about what it would be like all summer and
next semester. I got two more "A's".
The teacher of third semester, Ralph Hashoian, had come back to school
from a sabbatical in California, land of the beatniks, and was hot with
new ideas. He described a pierced hanging lantern he hadn't seen before
and I coiled one. I got another "A". We didn't have time to fire but
could take the project home for safe keeping. Half way through the
summer I accidental broke the piece of green wear while sanding on it,
why? I don't know, guess I just wanted to mess with clay. I got a
disappointment. I've never sanded clay again.
During the fourth semester we got to try the wheel. It was a Foster,
designed by John "Jack" Foster, and resembling the Leach treadle only
made of metal. As usual, some kids tried to see how fast it would go and
soon lost interest. Not me! I was hooked soon as I straddled that sucker
with a lump of clay to center. I got another "A".
The fifth and sixth semesters were not involving clay and I wanted to
continue. The department decided to let me practice after school and
Ralph showed me how to keep an eye on the electric kiln. During that
fifth semester I went to a workshop given by some English guy at the
Willisted Art Gallery in Windsor, Ontario. They told me I should take a
class at The Art School of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts with a
guy named Jack Foster. Being "underage" I had to ask his permition. He
asked why I wanted to take the class. "I love clay!" I said. "OK!" he
said. That's where I learned once firing and engobs. By summers end I
had two more "A's".
For the last semester of high school, Foster suggested I also enrolled
in ceramics at Henry Ford Community College taught by Gawain Dart.
That's where I learned to trim feet. By graduation I had been given two
more"A's" and received some award for straight "A's" in Art. The
diagnosis was complete, I had talent! The rest is history.
Looking back I realize I had no idea what all I would need besides
talent. That's when patience, practice, determination in the face of
obstacles, hard work at times, and imagination came into play. Somehow I
weathered the waiting and I'm back in the saddle again. That's livin on
clay time. Y'all stay in there and keep going! da U.P.
Navarre Pottery
Norway, Michigan