When I first started potting a few years ago, I gave handmade mugs and casseroles and planters to family and friends. They often encouraged me to sell my pots, probably because they were running out of attic space for the unrequested stoneware I “gifted” them. Our garage became the repository of pots without a home, much like the Island of Misfit Toys in the classic Christmas TV show Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
“We have more pots than friends,” my wife said, “You’ve got to start selling some of these pots.”
But I didn’t want to sell my pots. Maybe I was a little fearful that no one would buy them, but there was a bigger reason I didn’t want to go pro. I enjoyed throwing pots on my new wheel so much that I didn’t want to taint the experience by turning potting into a business. I’d already learned in my day job, practicing medicine, that the challenges of running a business can overwhelm the satisfaction of a cherished career.
Also, it just didn’t seem right to make money from my new avocation. After all, I was lucky to have the time and resources to take up potting. God had given me a small measure of talent for the craft. And I’d been blessed with a fantastic teacher, George Evanko, who showed me how to center a lump of clay on the potters wheel and magically turn it into a vase or a bowl or a mug.
I looked for a way to do something good with the profits I might make. I found Potters for Peace, a nonprofit that teaches people in 18 countries how to make inexpensive clay water filters to purify their drinking water. This project is important because 1.7 million people, die every year from preventable water born diseases. Most of them are children under the age of five. I committed to donate ten dollars for every pot that I sold to Potters for Peace. I am proud to tell you that at the completion of my rookie season I’ve earned $3,120 for Potters for Peace.
It is sort of ironic that when I became a physician I expected to some day travel abroad in order to provide medical care to those in need. After 20 years in medical practice, I’ve still not found a way to do so. Yet just one year of making mud into pots in my garage will help improve the health of people in ways I never accomplished during two decades in medicine.