Got a small box this afternoon from the UPS guy. It had a Fredericksburg, Va., return address, which made me think it was from Dan Finnegan. Opened up the box and found a fully bubble-wrapped pot with "Horace" handwritten on the tape holding the wrap together. Dan's called me that for years, after a story that is too long to go into here.
Anyway, I opened it and it is a very simple, un-Finneganlike little plate, fired in someone's wood kiln. I thought Dan had gotten all simple and earthy on me, then I noticed that the stamp was either an M or a W and certainly not Dan's. Mystery.
Then I rummaged through the box and found the note you see in the photograph of the plate. "Malcolm Wright!"
Years ago, when I'd only been making pots for a few years and Dan was my teacher at the Art League School in Alexandria, Va., I saw the short film "Bridge of Fire." It's the story of the friendship between Vermont potter Malcolm Wright and Karatsu, Japan, potter Takashi Nakazato. As a young potter, Malcolm worked in the studio of Takashi's father, Living National Treasure Taroemon Nakazato. The two young men knew each other then. Years later, they met again and decided to throw pots in each other's studio and glaze and fire the pots as they would be finished in that particular studio. It's a terrific film, well worth tracking down, and it was an influence on me for years, particularly after I went to Anderson Ranch in Colorado for two weeks with Nakazato.
I don't know for sure if Dan remembers that story, but I suspect he does. And hence the arrival of the little plate. Thanks, Dan.