The master potter worked the wheel with his foot, furiously pumping the pedal and spinning the table as he molded and shaped the block of dark clay. He expert hands worked with practiced skill, dipping repeatedly into the bowl of water at his side as he kept the clay soft enough to shape. His concentration was absolute, and as he worked, the form of an elegant vessel began to appear. The potter’s fingers pushed on the spinning clay here, smoothed it there, using wooden tools as the final touch to spin intricate designs and patterns into the soft mud.
When he was finished, he fired the vessel in the furnace, subjecting it to intense heat so that it would be strong and would not crack easily, then placed it carefully on display next to his other works. The vessel served him well, but over time it began to shows signs of its use. The rim had chipped from repeated use, the fine patterns on the outside had begun to wear away, and slight stress fractures began to appear on the walls of the vessel. The master potter saw how this spoiled the rest of the display, so with the affection of an artist to his creation, he removed the vessel from the display and broke it into many pieces. He continued to grind the vessel until it was only dust, and with methodical patience, he reworked the clay dust with just the right amounts of water and temper to restore it to its former softened state. Excitement and joy danced across the potter’s face, visions of a far more beautiful vessel displayed in his mind, as he lifted the restored lump of clay to the wheel and reshaped it into a vessel that far surpassed it previous beauty and was a beautiful reflection of the person and character of the potter himself. No one who looked upon the new vessel could doubt that the potter had not shaped it, for the characteristics of the master craftsman were clear for all to see.