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I'm obsessed with process. I seldom find something interesting without wondering how it came into being. The process of mold making has always roused my curiosity in particular. No matter the material, looking at the finished piece, I love to imagine the mold from which it was pulled.
While preparing myself for my second attendance at Coph Nia, a now-defunct gathering of gay and bi Pagan men, I considered what I could add to my vendor space alongside the essential oil blends I’d prepared and the bodywork I’d be offering. I’d long wanted to learn how to make plaster molds for slipcast ceramics, and I was also interested in the notion of phallic objects for altar and ritual use. It seemed like the perfect time both to learn this process and to create those phalluses.
I worked with a friend I’d met through a ceramics class she'd offered. She’s a master mold maker, and I couldn't have had a better teacher. We worked from a big rubber dildo that I borrowed from a performer friend who'd used it as a prop. My teacher and I created the mold in a day, I brought it home to cure, and over the course of a few weeks I poured and released copies of that mold that each managed to take on its own personality and individual qualities. You might expect a mold to create perfect replicas every time, and in a very controlled, factory setting, that’s exactly the case. I wasn’t looking for that at all. From that mold I pulled phalluses that leaned different directions, curved in their own ways, and displayed a suggestion of the diverse reality of men's members in shape if not in size.
I used a two-glaze process on the phalluses, and the outcome was exactly not what I expected. This aspect of ceramics both interests and maddens me. It’s part of what moves the process beyond the mundane. I find the finished products beautiful, and not what I’d anticipated. They were fired hotter than they normally would be in order to increase their strength. The high temperature changed the behavior of the glazes. At first I was disappointed. I felt that two months’ attention in pouring, releasing, first-firing, glazing, and now second-firing had ended in failure.
I spent some time with them on shelves just to look at them; I needed to see them for what they had become, apart from what I’d imagined. They were and are beautiful in spite of my desire to control the outcome. If that's not a metaphor for life, I don't know what is.
Our lives are beautiful.
What I ended up with in this first (and maybe only) run of ceramic phalluses, is a dozen ceramic cocks of various shape, size, and finish. Some are light; others are heavy. Some are varied in color, others uniform. Some are glossy in finish, others matte. What they all share is an incredible feeling when they rest in your palm. They are solid. They are powerful. They will endure.
It’s been a pleasure to share these pieces with others. It's been a pleasure to walk this path, practicing a new process with my hands while experiencing a higher journey toward accepting my life as it is, apart from expectation, and remembering, every time I lay hold of my own phallus, that I hold something sacred in my palm, a source of pleasure that can be devotional, worshipful. When we remember this sacred dimension of our desire and pleasure, we find ourselves living in a new way. We honor our sexuality as part of the entirety of who we are, and not as a substitute for holistic living. We find that we are called to live out a life that finds the sacred everywhere, just as we find it within.