The edges of spring are beginning to show around here if I take the time to notice.
I love to listen to podcasts and audio books while I am working in the studio. Some of my favorites include This American Life, Radio Lab, Freakanomics, The Splendid Table, Fresh Air, The Diane Rehm show and more. Lately I have been thoroughly enjoying my friend and fellow potter Ben Carter's podcast, Tales of the Red Clay Rambler. He interviews artists worldwide about their art and life. I think you'll enjoy it as I do, even if you are not an artist. I always find it interesting to listen to things in the studio that require such focused attention, when what I'm doing with my hands requires the same range of focus. Now that my hands know what to do when throwing a pot at the wheel, my mind sometimes can wander off and get me uncentered, which doesn't help when throwing a pot! I find keeping engaged with podcasts or audio books my focus heightens. The muscle memory that I have gained through 13 years of making pots helps me consider other things about that form while throwing the pot. It's so similar to playing a song at the piano. When I first was learning how to play music when I was little, every note and hand position was painstakingly paid attention to. Now I can play through a song without really paying attention to where my hands are on the keys, or where I am following along on the page. Instead, I can refine the layers of the song through emotion, volume, and tone. The same refinement comes at the potter's wheel. Now I don't have to tell myself to hold the tools a particular way. My hands already do that. That frees up my mind to think about what shape the pot needs to be, where I want the volume of the form, what areas are set up for the handle, or for the lid, etc. Listening to stimulating, educational conversation with thought provoking ideas and stories also fuels this process of creativity. I'm further stimulated and focused in my own world when working and listening. I've talked with other fellow artists about this and have heard similar thoughts from them about their ability and love for listening to things while working in the studio. If you don't already listen to some of these podcasts, I encourage you to do so and see where it takes you!
And if you have some recommendations for great audio books, I'm all ears!