Indie film princess Mercedes Cabral has turned to pottery to battle her worries. As an actress, her main source of living has been affected greatly because of the pandemic. She confessed that her anxiety disorder worsened but that she felt lucky to have art to go back to in this time of uncertainty.
“I got to concentrate and make time with my art. That’s the beautiful thing about pottery, clay is a tactile medium,” Cabral said. “The feeling of earth and dirt in your hands feels very relaxing. It’s like a dance between your hands and the clay. It’s very intimate and a bit sexy, too, to tell you honestly!”
She makes one-of-a-kind potteries perfect for cacti. The actress majored in sculpture at the University of the Philippines-Diliman’s College of Fine Arts. But she returned to school last year to attend a Basic Wheel Throwing Pottery Workshop. Her friends, Cecille de Jesus and Lara delos Reyes, talked her into it.
Pottery has helped her deal with her anxiety, she said. “You don’t just go with the flow of the wheel and clay, you have to go against it and put the right amount of pressure on it for you to manipulate and shape the clay in whatever form you want. It gives me a mind and body connection.”
Cabral’s inspiration comes from nature such as plants, rocks, branches, corals, flowers and fruits. She integrates her linear art into her works. Running out of ideas is the most challenging part of being a potter. There are days that ideas would overflow to the point that she can’t sleep at night, but there are days when she has nothing.
It helps she is staying in the house of De Jesus. Cabral moved because they are planning to start a pottery business. They fuel and inspire each other’s artistry but they also compete against one another.
“Sometimes we joke that we’re gonna smash or destroy each other’s works,” the actress says with a laugh.
Cabral talks fondly about De Jesus. When she didn’t have her own potter’s wheel, De Jesus was kind enough to let her use hers. The duo even built their own raku kiln to cook their works. They will venture into dinnerware as soon as their food-grade glazes arrive.
Cabral said that she can make 6-8 small pots (3-5” tall x 3-5” diameter) in one day or 40-50 pieces in a week.
“It depends on the design and height but the average is one hour for a simple small piece.”
The affirmation comes when people start buying her products. It shows how much people appreciate the work she’s done.
“Every artist knows that it’s your brain juice, heart, soul, sweat, blood and tears that you pour into your artwork,” she said. “Some people may say, ‘Oh, that’s too easy! I think I can make that, too!’ But boo, no, it isn’t. [Your art] is your way of letting people know who you are.”
Each piece is unique. There might be similarities in the plant pots, but no two pieces are the same.
Cabral and De Jesus will come out with a tableware collection under their collaboration name, Blacq Door. INQ
Follow @mercedes__cabral (double underscore) and @blacqdoor on Instagram.