Anyone who thinks that retirement is a time to take it easy doesn’t know Patricia Takeshita. After she finished her 28-year career as an English teacher at Mid-Pacific Institute. Instead, she kept active with a long-time hobby: pottery.
Takeshita belongs to the Hawai‘i Potters’ Guild, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and developing ceramic arts and crafts. She describes the guild as a community. “It’s a nice place to hang out,” Takeshita says. “The people there are always helping each other.” There are currently around 150 members of all ages in the guild.
Takeshita’s specialty is raku ware, or Japanese pottery. Raku pieces were traditionally hand-built but now potters can throw, or form, their pieces on the wheel, too. Then, the pieces are taken out of the kiln while still hot and cool in the open air. The entire raku process is designed to subject the pottery to extreme stress and creates unique effects throughout the glaze. “It’s always a fun surprise to see how the piece turns out,” says Takeshita.
Each year, the guild participates in Empty Bowl, a fundraiser that brings potters and chefs together to help end hunger in Hawaii. Potters donate hundreds of bowls and chefs prepare gourmet soups and snacks. It’s the perfect match. Before the participants choose their food, they choose their bowl. “My favorite part is helping people choose their bowls,” Takeshita says. “Actually, I like to say that the bowl chooses them.” She’s also happy that her love for pottery and creating beautiful pieces can make a difference. “The money from the event goes to Aloha Harvest, a local nonprofit whose mission is to feed the hungry in Hawaii. I’m happy to give back to the community.”
Takeshita encourages anyone who’s interested in pottery to contact the guild. “There are people who come in who’ve never touched clay before. And then there’s an instructor who’s in her 90s who’s been doing pottery for a long time! It’s never too late to start.”
Photo credit: Patricia Takeshita and Megan Wakayama