About six months ago I decided to take pottery lessons. I was in desperate need of a creative outlet that would not only physically prevent me from working, but one that would also occupy my mind so I wouldn’t think about it either. You see, I have a tendency to work - a lot. For the most part it’s incredible. I’ve been self employed for the majority of my adult life and absolutely love what I do. But what I’ve realized over the last few years (yeah, slow learner) is that I must set aside time to nurture my creativity. Like, actually write it in my calendar. After trying several creative outlets I finally stumbled upon the one that is perfect for me - making pottery.
I signed up to take a 6 week course that began with the basics of hand building before moving on to wheel thrown pottery. Since I knew zero about pottery (aside from buying it) this type of beginners class was just what I needed. What I quickly learned was, that although hand building wasn’t my favorite, it helped me get a feel for working with the clay before advancing to the wheel.
And once I started on the wheel I was hooked! It was challenging but also felt very natural, if that makes sense? I’d be so completely absorbed in what I was making that the class hours would fly by! Each session I would create 3 to 7 thrown pieces. And by fully embracing my amateur status, I allowed myself the liberty to make mistakes without worry. For me, having this freedom is what makes it fun! In fact, the element of imperfection is what makes each piece beautiful and unique to the potter hands.
I’ve also found that creating useful objects for the home can be inherently fulfilling. There is a native, almost mysterious quality in taking rock, soil, and minerals from the earth and turning it into a beautiful cup, bowl, or other object with purpose. My lifelong goal is to make all of our dishes and serve ware so I can replace the mass market ones I don’t absolutely love. I’ve started by making small handleless mugs and cups. Some with thumb imprints and some without. I don’t mind that they aren’t the same size or weight. I know that with more practice I’ll be able to create a more uniform set. But there’s no hurry.
I’ve been experimenting with various clays and glazes, trying to find ones that will achieve the results I’m seeking for my pottery. There are so many variables to consider and working with them is the only way to find the best combinations. So far, I haven’t found any that are just right but look forward to continuing my search. My next step is to try mixing a few glazes in hopes of creating my own signature colors. As you probably know, I like muted neutral tones and a touch of black or charcoal. We shall see!
The small series of stacking bowls above were glazed in matte black. I love using these for green olives or nuts because they look so pretty against the dark, dramatic color. The colander below is one of my hand building projects. One of my instructors made a similar one and I used hers as a reference. I pulled the clay through a slab roller, free-hand cut the basic shape I wanted, and draped it on a mold to create the bowl. The next day, when the clay was leather hard and easier to work with, I cut the drain holes. I’m looking forward to rinsing and serving fresh berries in it this spring!
And in true Heather style, I’ve gone overboard and purchased my own used kiln and potters wheel so I can practice whenever the mood strikes me. I’d love to continue sharing my creative journey and projects with you. Let me know if that sounds of interest to you. And if you’ve been exploring your own creativity - please share! We can cheer each other on!