I don't know exactly when it hit me. But obviously this was something I needed to make. It's kind of like when you get a taste for something like sushi or apple pie or a tomato sandwich and the longing haunts you until you've actually answered the call, satisfied that taste.
In this case the call was oil lamps, but making only one was not enough to satisfy my curiosity. I found myself grabbing one unmeasured wad of clay in my hands after another, throwing oil lamp after oil lamp on my potter's wheel. The design evolved from handle-less and tall to squatted with curly pig-tail like handles, each topped with a large undulating flower petal bead for the wick.
You can see the very first one I made in the photo below. It's the one in the back, the teacher - the one that lets me know where to course correct and how to keep going. In front are later iterations that also "followed me home."
So where was this hankering to make these little sweet fire pots coming from? I've made soy candles and candlesticks in the past. They were all fine and fun to make, but the tug was not nearly as strong to crank those out as the one I was feeling with these oil lamps. There was something special about them, but what? Why oil lamps?
What crept into my awareness in answer to my questions were these words: "Put a little light in the world." And with that I knew my question of "why" had its appropriate "because." I listened and the pots began to school me about what they are all about:
• Light can help shift the unknown to known, the invisible to visible, and the fearful heart into a peaceful one.
• It takes a flame to light a flame. When one shares their light - their flame - with another, the sharing makes the room brighter for both.
• Regardless of the design on the outside of the lamp, the size or shape of the bead, whether there's a handle or not, all fulfill their purpose with a wick, some oil, and a flame. It's collaboration that makes them work.
I gratefully sit with this trio of "Fire Flowers," as I've come to call them, every morning while I write in my journal, usually before the sun comes up. They are my own little garden of light that lines a path to daylight during these dark winter mornings. They invite and inspire me to be part of the collaboration, to add some light to the day whether in the form of kindness, listening, or saying "thanks."
Someone may be able to use a little more light in their world.