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Real men don't paint

It happened again Wednesday night; Denise and I were unloading the big kiln while Nicole's class glazed their student work in the next room. She asked if it would be okay if they came in a few at a time to see the finished results, and I said "Sure," as it had been a good firing, and I'm always happy to show off my work.

And of course, somebody asked, "Does your wife paint these?"


From offcenter.biz, August 2009.
playing to the audience
I don't get it.

My name is on the sign. It's on the business cards. It's on the price stickers. But at least once at every show, someone will come into the booth, look at the work, and ask Denise, "Do you make this?"

Even more commonly, they assume that I throw the pots and Denise paints them. Why? I guess in our culture, painting just isn't a guy thing.

Except in this case, it is. Not only do I throw all the pots in my booth, I hand-paint each and every one. I even make the paint brushes I decorate with. Just call me Renaissance potter. (Actually, please don't...)

Denise does assist with the technical end of the pottery. She always helps load and unload the glaze kiln, sometimes mixes glazes, occasionally rolls out dragon toes. And of course she spends a lot of time in the booth, selling (or trying to sell) pots.

Lest it appear that I only do the fun stuff, let it be noted that I also load and unload bisque kilns, the world's least rewarding job. I also build and repair screens and equipment for Denise's handmade paper business, Pulp Romances. I run the dewatering press when she's teaching papermaking classes at the arboretum, or in the backyard. And I do a lot of computer work for Off Center Ceramics, Pulp Romances, and Braille Transcription Services, Denise's third hat. Processing, sorting and formatting the Oregon Country Fair performance schedule is no picnic.

What I'm trying to say, I guess, is that our household is a family business, a lot like the family farm I grew up on, in that everybody takes a part. Someone milks cows, somone feeds the pigs, someone picks up eggs in the chicken coop. Everybody pitches in to make sure everything gets done.

But I paint the pots.