Pottery Class

Four years ago (hard to believe it has been that long) I asked Haley if she was interested in taking a teen/parent pottery class. I liked the idea of doing something creative and entertaining together, since so much of our daily life revolved around school and work and housekeeping. She agreed and we spent the next four Saturdays learning how to center clay on a wheel, how to open up the middle, and how to pull that clay up to form walls. Then we got to glaze our creations. This is what I produced.

Yes, these are small – maybe you could store paperclips in them??

The class ended and Haley went back to school, but I was having too much fun to quit, so I signed up for an adult class and hesitantly showed up as the complete novice that I was. Luckily for me, Sally (the instructor) and all the women in the class welcomed me with open arms. Sally was patient with my questions and everyone was quick to offer tips and encouragement.

Four years later, my pottery is better…

Mini teapot – just enough for one large cup or two small ones
Chip and dip bowl
Yarn bowl

But I still have my pots collapse on the wheel or discover that the glazing experiment I tried ruined the piece. If I were hoping to become a master potter … well I don’t think that was ever in the cards for me. But luckily my aims are more achievable.

Way back when I was just starting high school and was the new kid in yet another school, I discovered the solution to my “making friends” troubles. After a year of avoiding the lunch room, a girl in one of my classes suggested that we should try out for the basketball team (don’t laugh! I know I’m vertically challenged). It was a genius idea – I wasn’t much of an asset on the court (at least that year) but suddenly I had a group I belonged to and people to eat lunch with. It was terrific! When I moved again the next year, I knew just what to do. I found out when tryouts were and joined the team in my new school.

This has been a great friend-finding strategy for me … find a group and get acquainted in a place where I belong. When Haley and I took that first pottery class, Tom had been gone for almost two years. The acute stage of grieving had abated and I was poking around, trying to figure out what my life was going to be like, now that I was single again. Pottery class gave me new friends – many of whom shared common life experiences. Every week we catch up on our families, on vacations, on pets, on current events. Once in awhile we plan a field trip together – an art exhibit or a trip to the botanical garden or just a meetup for lunch. Along with pottery, we shape our friendships.

The friendship has been wonderful – but in addition there is a more personal aspect that pottery class has fulfilled for me. Back to high school again. I wouldn’t say that I have any great creative talent, but I’ve always had this desire to experiment with art. I took a drawing class and a painting class in high school – I turned out adequate projects but had a great time doing them. When I went to college, I signed up for a beginning watercolor class. I was the only amateur in a group of art majors – but I loved every second of the class and was grateful that no one told me I didn’t belong. Even the instructor was patient with my inexperience.

For many of my adult years my primary creative outlet was either crafting (I’m a mean cross-stitcher) or DIY projects around my house (readers of my blog will note the MANY posts devoted to such projects). But eventually even I get tired of doing the same things I’ve always done. Pottery was a jump back into the “making art” world but doing something completely out of my experience. That was exciting and scary at the same time.

Things I love about throwing pottery on the wheel:

  1. getting my hands dirty – it is like playing in the mud, except when you get done there is this object that didn’t exist before.
  2. the physical strength needed to center a piece of clay.
  3. the feel of the clay as the wheel turns – while some clays have a lot of grit in them (and I don’t really like them), my favorite clay to work is soft and silky smooth under my fingertips.
  4. the mental focus on feeling the clay move and take shape – holding fingers and sponge at just the right pressure so that the clay moves evenly and smoothly into the shape envisioned.
  5. the joy from seeing a glazed piece waiting to be picked up and realizing that it turned out so much better than I imagined.

Dieter F Uchtdorf said this:

The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before…Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty…

Happiness, Your Heritage, Oct. 2008

I agree – pottery has given me that sense of deep satisfaction & fulfillment, both in terms of creating pots and in building friendships. You should give it a try!!

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