~In Loving Memory of my Grandmother, Pamela Frueh~
My grandmother and I were not incredibly close until our shared passion for ceramics brought us together.
It was at the dawn of my aloof teenage years that my cousin Anjie, without much effort, convinced my grandmother and my grandfather to take a pottery class with her at their local pottery studio. Once the course was over, my grandmother purchased a studio pass and continued to fervently pursue ceramics. Pretty soon, everyone was getting pots for Christmas, birthdays, and any other special occasion that was deserving of a gift. Needless to say, she was hooked.
After a couple of years of serious commitment to the craft, my grandparents created a makeshift studio in their basement in New Jersey. I would visit twice a year. When I think back to those trips, I am reminded of the times I would putter around with the clay while she lectured me about air bubbles, clay dust, and all the other tedious details of pottery making. Reaching my saturation point after an hour or so, I would retire to the kitchen to eat the bounty of delicious leftovers she always had stocked in her refrigerator. These informal studio sessions were my first introduction to ceramics, aside from a week-long summer camp when I was twelve.
A few years passed like this, with me visiting and puttering and her lecturing. By the time university rolled around, something inside me had shifted. Ceramics became a craft I wanted to pursue with rigor. Luckily, my university had a craft center, where I signed up for two back-to-back throwing classes. Of course, at this point my grandmother had been an avid potter for quite some time. She had also just moved from New Jersey to North Carolina. For the first time ever, my grandparents were just a short drive away.
This time marked a significant change in our relationship. As our passion for clay became shared, countless memories were made; a beautiful bond was formed. When the local pottery guild would meet at the craft center, I would take a break from throwing in the ceramics studio to give her a hug. When my pots came out of the kiln, I would drive to her house as soon as I could to show her everything I had made. We would spend hours in her studio together discussing different glazes, firing techniques, and our plans for future making.