Baking has been a creative outlet for me since I was about 13. I think Cake Boss started it all for me…and The Great British Bake Off absolutely reignited the passion in the last year or so. Throughout high school, I made cakes shaped like bunnies, tiered cakes, cakes with the leg lamp from The Christmas Story, and so much more.
Decorating was my thing. The kitchen was my studio away from the ceramic studio because in high school you unfortunately don’t live at school. BUT in college, you do, and for those four years I was as happy as, well, a nerd living in a school.
For four years, I was able to go to the ceramic studio when I wanted and for however long I wanted. Sometimes I would even stay the night, we had a secret cot some of the night owl students would use (ceramics is kind of an obsession).
When I was stressed about a big paper or a relationship, I would pack a bag of snacks, grab a blanket, put on comfy sweats and my classic clogs, and wander down to my safe little basement aka the Juniata Ceramic Studio.
I wouldn’t always work on my projects; sometimes I would just sit and read or if I was angry I would smash pots.
For four years the ceramic studio was where I expressed each emotion I felt.
Sometimes I made artwork that reflected my feelings, other times I would just sit and be. Just sit and feel. Sit and breathe. The studio was my safe place.
My safe place to cry, to confront personal issues, to create, to laugh as loud as I wanted, to dance a little or big jig when something would come out right, to be me.
My senior year, the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the world and I had to leave my safe place. I will never forget the day we were told, as students, it was time to move out. As I carried boxes of unfinished pieces, a 100 pound bin of clay I mixed myself, and a 5 gallon bucket of hand mixed glaze out of the studio, in the hopes I could finish my capstone from home, my heart fell apart.
The unfinished bisqueware rattled and shook like my shoulders.
Since March, 2020, I have not been able to work in a ceramic studio because of the pandemic. I lost my place for creative expression.
This blog reignited my drive and my need for creativity. I needed to create a new studio, so back to the kitchen I went.
Baking gives me great relief, but it is the decorating portion that truly brings out my creativity and leaves me feeling proud or like I need to work harder and refine my craft (that’s the ceramicist in me…make 100 of the same piece and it still probably won’t be perfect but you will have learned mountains along the way).
A few weeks ago, I had a stressful week at work and I needed to decompress so I baked cupcakes and decorated them for over five hours.
For five hours, the stress broke from my shoulders and was replaced with a sore shell. A shell that got stronger with each bag of icing, with each iced rose, cactus, and leaf. Many say that shells are bad, that they symbolize shelter and fear. For me, that day I was rebuilding my armor, my shell represented strength.
Although I cannot be inside a ceramic studio and feel the soft clay race between my hands as I throw, or feel the warm wind from a newly opened kiln after a long firing, icing will fill the cracks.
My cupcake photography needs a bit of work 🙂
Anyways, I just wanted to share my journey learning that creating can come in many forms and baking is one of them.
If you call yourself a stress baker maybe rephrase and call yourself a healing baker because words hold weight.
If baking is what makes you feel good again, then keep doing that. If giving out your baked goods to heal others makes you happy, then keep doing that. Do what helps you.
Be a healer for yourself and others. Bake those healing cupcakes my dears.