November 2012

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Goodwill hunting


A couple days ago I went out to look through a few local Goodwill stores for items to re-purpose. I don’t hit the Goodwill for clothes…it’s overwhelming. Besides, I think I’ve already expressed my struggle with ready-made-off-the-rack-Everyman’s-fashion here.

I did make a note that orphaned glass crock pot lids abound. So, before you say your good-byes to that avocado hued plug-in crock of cookery because the lid is chipped, cracked or otherwise broken, run down to the Goodwill. This place could be known from this day forward as the Crock Pot Lid Re-distribution Center of America (CPLRCA).

While at the Goodwill, I’m sure to scour the racks for hand made ceramic wares. Honestly. I’m hoping to stumble across some gem that was mistakenly unloaded at the donation center. It could happen. We’ve all heard tales of the Picasso discovered at the Salvation Army.

Truth be told, in all my visits to the Goodwill, I’ve never found a masterpiece. Not even a good copy. However, I have uncovered several student ceramic works. Pieces that occupied the dressers (and later closet shelves) of once proud parents.

pot stamp

I’ve also come across well made professional work. If it’s appealing and in good condition, I’m generally compelled to provide a new forever home for these pieces. Last week I found a separated pair of well thrown mugs, stamped EJ. But, I wasn’t thrilled with the stony, Robin’s egg blue glaze. So I carefully rearranged the surrounding Corning Ware cups to provide a space for the pair to sit comfortably together on the shelf.

Large Lidded Jar, Robin Hopper

At another Goodwill location (it was a good day to make the rounds), I picked up a ten inch stoneware plate with a Robin Hopper influenced floral design. The name of the potter is difficult to read. An additional stamp tells me that the piece is from St. Jacobs, Ontario. I did a bit of research to see if I could untangle the illegible signature. I believe the piece came from the Conestoga River Pottery. My trail ends there.

I wonder sometimes how once loved objects (unlike the endless shelves of glass floral vases) end up at the Goodwill. I suppose there comes a time when the student has grown up and moved beyond their naive encounter with clay. Besides, there are just so many years of dust management that a parent should feel indebted to a doorstop weighted, seven inch, water pitcher-ish form.

As for those well made pieces – particularly from all lands north of the state…you know, those places that have winters; real winters; winters that last longer than summers – I’m pretty sure those pieces traverse to these warmer climes by way of snowbirds. The sale of winter homes, shuffling of the family unit or just the entropy of life might provide the perfect Goodwill opportunity.

While on my treasure hunt, there was one piece that stole the joy from my search…if just for a second. I spotted it stacked among the discount store slip cast pieces popular with fiscally strapped students and newlyweds. Dug it out of the clutter. Yep. There it was. This was a piece created by a local potter. I recognized the form, the glaze, the signature. What brought this piece to this place? Why so easily dismissed? Is the form dated? Commonplace? Boring? Perhaps the market is hardened? Saturated?

That’s a kick in the pants. This might just as well be my work. I could have gone another day without this discovery…or maybe not. This day. This day I’m reminded to keep my purpose…my work fresh, growing, personal, and relevant.

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