It was 8th grade. I had been accepted into the advanced art class. I was picked because I did an above average sketch of my hand. I think we all know how hard hands can be to draw. Which means a well drawn hand can get you into pretty much any art program you desire.
This art class covered the gamut. We worked with pencils, paints, charcoal, and then came the clay. We were told to make an object of our choosing. I decided to make a gift. A mug made from malleable mud for my mom.
I made long tubular shapes and then formed them into circles. Layering them higher and higher, building up the structure of the mug. I added in some little clay balls to give it character. And every mug needs a handle. I decided I’d just eyeball that and hope for the best. It’s uncomfortable to hold, and not very ergonomic, but sometimes that is the price you pay for truly handcrafted work.
Next came the glaze. It never started the color it was going to end up. You just had to trust that the glaze labeled green would end up being green. Only the flames of the kiln would reveal its true tone.
My creation came back from the fire and was complete. I was so excited to bring home my gift and present it to my mother. She loved it. I could see it in her eyes. She smiled and hugged me.
We tried pouring liquid in it, but it leaked. Therefore it became a vessel for pencils and pens. My mother placed it on her desk at work for a while. She has since used it as part of her decor. It has spent time being proudly displayed in several rooms.
And as I look upon this clay creation with older eyes I realized something.
This is the ugliest goddamn mug I’ve ever seen.
It’s horrid. It’s misshapen. The glaze is splotchy. And that green is pretty much the worst green that ever green’d. The handle hurts your hand when you hold it. It leaks. It scares children away.
But my mom loves it. She really does. And no matter how many times I ask her to destroy this monstrosity she absolutely refuses. She keeps it on display. She even put a candle in it to make it a functional piece. It is a permanent fixture in our household. A 20 year old reminder of that time I got a B in art class.
So even though I feel a bit of shame for bringing this beastly mug into existence, I always get warm fuzzies when I look at it. It reminds me of my mom’s love. It reminds me of how proud she is of me. And I think this love and pride ends up turning my ghastly creation into something kind of beautiful.
Eid In Abuja, NIgeria