I needed help with a problem, but who could I ask? Mine was a technical question and the pages of my ceramics library were dog-eared from looking. It was a frustrating situation. I had just flung myself back into it clay by taking a night class. It was daytime when I eventually picked up my finished pieces. A tile I’d labored over long had cracked…that happens, of course (see Green Man tile below). I didn’t know the studio hours and no one was around when I picked things up. At that time, I didn’t know anyone who worked in clay and felt unconfident because it was a transition period in my life. The risk? Touching clay again after a long hiatus. Change is often uncomfortable or scary and it was so for me. It actually took several stages to make change stick… Eight years ago, I let a one-year Open Studio punch card expire because I didn’t have the nerve to show up. Then, years later, after I took the tile class, I didn’t return for two years. Oh, INFPs! I had so many other things going on in my life at the time, it was easy to be distracted. I had started and was running an ESL school for immigrant women, for starters. But, in the background, I did have a fear of exploring my own creativity, too, which was painful. Though I had never asked anyone about the cracked tile, I still wanted an answer. After wracking my brain, I started researching online and found a 24/7 go-to site: AllExperts. I searched all their answers to questions like mine. And I got my answer. The tile base and affixed mask were not equally dry. Though they were both dry enough and did not crack during bisque firing, the difference pulled them apart when glaze fired. Later, this answer was reconfirmed at the same studio…after I became brave enough to join the Open Studio. (I faced my fear of returning to clay and meeting and working with others I didn’t know.) There are two resident experts for the pottery section at AllExperts. One is Ti Phillips and his studio cred is pretty far-reaching. The same for Ric Swenson. So, if you find yourself wondering in the wee hours of the night or if you feel angst and are in the midst of an existential clay crisis, try AllExperts! I will say this: that tile now has a certain cachet for me because it is cracked: it represents hardships overcome and creativity embraced.