Trifecta Writing Challenge #66 ~ ONE LAST PIECE


Ruth hadn’t glazed a pot in what seemed like, forever.  He always did that part.  Her ‘job’ was the throwing… his, the decorating.  Such awards they had received.  But he wasn’t helping anymore.  She had decided on a simple sgraffito cut through the soft slip.  Selecting a chisel ended bamboo for her doctor, she wondered if she was up for the task.

He loved Temmoku, and though she disliked working in stoneware, it seemed only fitting.  She had found a glaze he made years ago before she had insisted they use only porcelain.  A near-black, which could break to an iron-red at the right temperature creating a fire-change.  A bit of Titanium added as doctor to the process.  He would be so pleased.

She had decided on just their marks intertwined with his name, as she pushed through the soft clay.  No dates.

There would be comparisons, of course.  Ruth didn’t care.  This was to be her last work.  Her tears would only add to the decoration.



Trifecta Writing Challenge Week Sixty-Six : Write 33 to 333 words using the third definition of the word: DOCTOR (noun)  a : material added (as to food) to produce a desired effect ~ b : a blade (as of metal) for spreading a coating or scraping a surface


Temmoku is a type of glaze popular in Japan.  It is used on stoneware and is a very complicated process.   Sgraffito is a form of decoration, scratching through the surface of a glaze to reveal the clay beneath, or another glaze, before firing.

I named her Ruth to honor my first ceramics teacher, Ruth Rippon.  An amazing artist and a wonderful teacher.  Nobody but Ruth would glaze her work.

ruth rippon           ripponlollies

This photo of Ruth in her studio in 1980 was taken by Kurt Fishback.   One of her most famous works is called The Lollies and can be found in Sacramento.  I don’t know who took the photo of young Ruth above.


This is one of my favorite stories I’ve written. I thought I would share it with AnythingGoes. Check out their blog for other stories:

My Random Musings


69 responses

  1. Nice story Ted. Her sadness is heartbreaking as she does what she seems to love.

    1. Thanks, Kim. I felt sad writing it.

      1. If you feel it then you can write it for others to feel. I think.

  2. oh there’s a beautiful sadness here, Ted, well done. and great use of the word doctor 🙂

    1. Hey, kz, thanks… the second one seemed damn awkward… I’m glad you approve.

  3. A little technical but it did not distract – very well pulled off Ted.

    Cheers, Eric

    1. Thank you for your comment, Eric. I’m really glad I left off the firing temperature now. I was wondering exactly that. I have added a little info at the end. Thanks again… Cheers.

  4. I concur with Eric. You have done some homework on this piece or you have done this yourself! Wonderful way you interwove the word in. Liked Ted.

    1. Guilty as charged. Thank you, Mum. As soon as I saw the second definition I new what it would be. Hard to use. And, no one would ever call it a ‘doctor’ in real life. Thanks.

  5. Aww, sweet. I feel sorry for the sculptor.

    1. Me too. It would be a labor of love for sure.

  6. So bitter-sweet. Great job.

    1. The perfect word, D. Thanks.

  7. Love the words that attend to the process.

    1. I like how you put that Eugene, thanks for reading.

  8. I love the use of the prompt word, Ted, not once but twice! And the story itself is so lovely and heartfelt. One of my favorites so far.

    1. Thank you, Steph. I think I got them right… this is a hard one. I appreciate your kind words.

  9. You really painted a beautiful picture with your words.

    1. Artistic words… I like that, Deana.

  10. I like your use of this difficult prompt, one of the few I think got it right in the ‘noun’ form. A well crafted story, like a fine piece of pottery.

  11. This is very rich with emotion…i wondered if she was crafting his personal urn? Or perhaps her own? If that it the case the sadness quotient was upped.

    1. Good guess, Carrie… nice to see you grace my page…

  12. You depicted the sad and emotional story well. (And I’m impressed that you used the noun form of the prompt twice. Nice!)

    1. Thank you, Janna… I didn’t start out that way, it kind of wrote itself, maybe I was the ‘doctor’.

  13. I liked the interweaving of the technical with the personal in the story. It made your use of the Trifecta prompt crystal clear. (You were bothered by my use of the word as a verb)

    1. Thanks Viv… Oh, I wasn’t bothered, I was not aware they had changed the rules to allow verbs when I made that comment…

  14. Really like this one, Ted. Between the melancholia of the sculptress and the expert terminology, it read beautifully.

    1. I’m glad to hear that, Kymm… thank you.

  15. Such a beautiful piece, Ted. Art and melancholy can be so intertwined. I loved this so much.

    1. Thank you, B, very much.

  16. this is a beautiful tribute – thanks for sharing

    1. I love to hear that, Barbara.

  17. This is terribly sweet and sad. I really like how your work the technical stuff into an interesting story. Great entry.

  18. Heart breaking story, her pain, longing and art all blend together.

  19. That’s a beautiful story, and a beautiful expression of love.

  20. I’m glad I scrolled down and found this story. Melancholy is a good word for it. Beautiful work, Ted!

    1. Thank you, Lisa… I think Angelique has been and gone…

  21. Her sadness is like a character. I love that last line.

    1. I liked it too, Lance, thanks.

  22. Love that you added photos 🙂

    1. Thank you, Tasneem. I went back and added a bit about the terms I had used and decided to say who the name Ruth was based on. Then it looked like something was missing, so I decided to find a photo of my teacher. I have Kurt’s book and had seen the one of her in her studio. And I have a photo of me sitting with ‘The Lollies’, but I can’t find it. I came across the photo of her working on a pot when she was young, and I knew it was the perfect illustration for this story. I’m glad you liked them, I love to see pics with stories too.

  23. This is a beautiful description of a loving and working partnership. And a great use of the prompt. Thanks for pottery education too.

    1. Thanks, Sarah Ann. I know an artist couple that makes fantastical sculptures, and they each do different functions in creating them.

      1. Hubby and I sometimes work on our jewellery together. He does the creative bit. I always do the boring finishing off.

      2. But, the piece is nothing without a fine finish.

  24. I agree that last line is fantastic, actually the last three are really great. I thought it was a really interesting mix of loving and technical.

    1. Thank you, Jennifer, I felt those lines showed her love.

  25. What a beautiful tribute to a Teacher Ted-really loved how you used the prompt in two places,so effortlessly.Thank you for the additional information at the bottom-it added to the pleasure of reading:-)

    1. I appreciate that. I would love for her to see the story. I’m not sure what she would think.

      1. Am sure she will love it -as any teacher would tell you,anything that is dedicated to them by an ex-student always carries more value cos it means that the student not only remembers what was taught but also has carried away a part of the teacher in his/her heart-the biggest reward a teacher gets is that love :-)When my ex-students who are now engineers,Doctors & other professionals,call me or msg me with loving words,it touches me like nothing else can-just try & see 🙂

  26. Perhaps “they” worked synergistically that one last time.

    Nice background info as well.

    1. I would imagine he helped… Thanks, Mary.

  27. This is professional stuff. Excellent. 🙂

    1. What a nice compliment… thank you.

  28. The sadness really seeps out of this piece, Ted, and I love how you casually include all the sculptor’s lingo whilst still making it comprehensible to the lay reader.
    I hesitated over the first use of doctor – just because I was wondering if “her doctor” was a man, and if so whether he was treating her, treating the loved man, or whether he *was* the loved man. Then I realised he wasn’t a man at all. Just took me out of the story a bit with all that thinking! But I see now that it’s the prompt, so what can you do?

    1. Thank you, Jenn, and for reading. This was a very difficult prompt, to use ‘doctor’ as a noun… and make it sound real. And that’s the problem, because no one uses the word that way. No potter calls any of their tools a doctor. They are needles, loops, ribbons, wires, and scrapers. The second use of doctor for the second definition makes more sense and was easier. You should try a Trifecta sometime… if Sebastian will let you.

      1. Maybe I will, Ted. Maybe I will!

  29. What a beautiful post! There is such a temptation to tell myself the rest of Ruth’s story, but really it’s just a perfect little stand-alone jewel. Thank you so much for sharing, and thank you to Susie who sent me over from her party.

  30. It makes me wonder why she has decided to stop. Well done Ted!
    Thanks for bringing it to the party! Have fun clicking on links and mingling with the guests!

  31. Very impressed, Ted.
    I enjoyed this change of pace and the story was wonderfully done.

  32. How very bittersweet… Thanks for sharing it at Susie’s party!

  33. Stopped by from Susie’s party. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  34. This is fantastic, Ted! It’s been a while since I’ve read one of your flash fictions. Wow!
    It says I am following, but I am going to unfollow an refollow to get your blog to show up in my reader.
    Thanks for stopping by! Have fun meeting my new friends! And you know the drill, don’t forget to DANCE!

  35. So sad that all of the things we love must eventually come to their end. But how amazing she had a lifetime of doing something she was so passionate about. #AnythingGoes

  36. Oh, my! A sad story and so well-written.

    1. Thank you, so nice to say.

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