I've often found parallels between the worlds of cooking and clay, in the approach, the sensory aspects, the challenges and the satisfaction. I used to work in restaurants and catering kitchens, and soon after I decided I'd be spending more time in the studio, many of my fun kitchen gadgets and tools made their way into the pottery tool bin.
In the kitchen, I learned many lessons from Julia Child that served me well not only over a stove, but in life. My favorite came from one of her early tv shows (one I think from previews I've seen was re-created for the recent Meryl Streep movie) where she is demonstrating a potato pancake. In order to have a successful flip, you 'must have the courage of your convictions' ... words to live by.
More recently in my studio, I've been learning a lot of lessons, most not for the first time, from my pug mill. For those of you not familiar, the pug mill is a much appreciated piece of equipment that allows me to reclaim and even make new clay, with much less physical effort than doing so by hand. I've been using my Peter Pugger for about a year now, and it's been an ongoing study on just what mix will give me the perfectly pugged clay I seek.
The recent movie 'Julie and Julia' reminded me that many of these pugger lessons are some of the same I learned with Julia and in the kitchen:
have all your ingredients (materials) assembled before you begin
don't under mix
don't over mix
don't over think
read recipes/instructions carefully through before beginning
try a recipe/process as written once first before you start mucking around with it (yes that's right, I said mucking)
don't fret the mistakes, you'll make more
make extra to share
and of course...you must have the courage of your convictions!