Most people benefit from doing something creative. I stumbled across pottery by accident and found it was a hobby I loved. It is now many years since I have done any pottery because I also love writing and taking photos and when my children were young I did lots of sewing as my creative outlet. I find I don’t have the time for too many hobbies at the one time. However, when pottery was my hobby I found it so satisfying.
It started one evening during the time I was a university student living in a students’ hostel. One of the other girls was studying ceramics and she invited me along to the studio one evening. That evening I felt potter's clay in my hands for the first time and it was as if my skin absorbed it and I was hooked! I wanted to learn how to make things from clay.
Some years later I got the opportunity to do a ten week pottery course which I paid for upfront. I was so excited. The tutor concentrated on using the potter’s wheel. I didn’t have much success at first and was disappointed. By the third lesson I was ready to give up. However, I had paid for the full course and I wasn’t going to waste that money. The tutor took pity on me and showed me how the pot I was trying to make that had collapsed on the wheel could be cut down and formed into an ashtray. Luckily Dad smoked and I was able to give my first creation to him.
From that point on I started to get the hang of it and went on to make numerous pots, vases and such on the wheel. However I found my true love was hand building. I felt I could express myself better through building by hand because I had complete control. This was where I felt true inspiration and experienced the greatest enjoyment. .
I did a number of other pottery courses off and on over the following decade or so. Each tutor had a different personality and that was expressed through her approach and the techniques. she chose to teach. One teacher I remember had a quiet personality and her classic style was illustrated in the clothes she wore, her mannerisms and the techniques she shared with the class. Her specialty was wheel throwing.
There was one teacher who had wild frizzy blonde hair and she wore hippy style overalls with colourful floral blouses. Her personality was larger than life and she was full of enthusiasm. She was a source of inspiration to me and had many suggestions to improve my pottery. This teacher loved bright coloured glazes and quirky techniques. Her favourite creation was fairies with curly hair made by pushing clay through a sieve.
One of my favourite activities was building houses out of slabs of clay. I cut a hole in the bottom of each so it could be placed over a tea light. The light would shine out of the windows and when I blew the candle out, the smoke would drift out of the chimney. I gave many away as gifts and even sold a few.
Working with clay has many therapeutic benefits including
• Clay can be pounded, squished, pinched and stretched and these activities can be an acceptable way to release tension and even frustration and anger
• Clay has a sensory appeal with its cool, smooth sensation
• The imagination is stimulated through the use of clay as a vast variety of items can be made using different methods
• Creative expression helps to elevate mood
• Creativity increases self esteem
I found pottery was a wonderful means of self expression and a source of deep enjoyment. Even though it is many years since I have made anything from clay I still derive pleasure from looking at or using the things I made during my pottery phase.