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Pottery, shaping form out of clay, starts with the simplest of pinch pots creating a small rounded vessel with the thumb pressed into a ball of clay. More complex pots emerge from the ancient craft of spiraling and joining coils of clay to form classic bowls or gourds to hold water or food evidenced in archaeological shards as being formed at the dawn of human history and still today as functional pots in Africa and elsewhere. The technique of throwing, shaping with the hands a mound of clay on a moving wheel powered by foot or electricity, to create sophisticated pots both functional and for beauty’s sake, is the discipline at the heart of Studio Pottery London.
Whilst we encourage hand-building as another facet of ceramic art, the learning and practice of throwing holds a special place in our community of makers. Grounded in sound teaching and technique, our pupils and members explore the repertoire of pots made on the wheel. From a shapeless lump of clay rise cylinders and curvaceous bowls or vases with flared rims, mugs and jugs, plates and vessels just to delight. The associated arts of turning, attaching elements such as handles, creating lids and spouts, lead to the kiln and the magical transformations wrought through heat on clay. Porous frangible pieces become hard and through the surface fusion of liquid glass in the form of glazes, ceramic vessels and objects emerge able to contain liquids, to function in the home, or adorn an environment as a self-sufficient artwork.
The pleasure for the amateur of making the humblest mug to drink from is shared with the professional repeat thrower producing multiples of the same pots for sale. A pot is always rooted in function and contains its own beauty according to the skill and intention of the maker. As a three-dimensional object, a pot has presence and personality.
The beauty of a beginner working in clay is the assurance that something will result given patience, practice, and love for the art and craft of pottery.
Are you in London? Check out our open pottery classes.
More than ever since the pandemic has forced us all to reevaluate what is important in our daily lives as humans, pottery stands out for its groundedness, its tradition and history, its perennial invitation to the individual to reconnect with the gift of our hands. Making pots with our hands revives hidden or even lost talents and renews contact with wells of interior creativity.
The enforced isolation of lockdown, with the mental and physical stresses which has accompanied it, and the often imposed work from home online, gives the outlet of working in clay an added attraction.
How better to escape the demands of online technology than to switch off one part of the brain and turn towards another creative side of our being?
Physical stress as well as mental tensions are soothed and rechannelled in the practice of pottery: to make a pot one has to set aside all stresses and lose oneself in the almost contemplative act of making in the present moment.
As we emerge battered from the pandemic, pottery can be a means of recovery, of escape, of reconfiguration, of alchemy transforming negativity into the quiet beauty of a well-crafted and realized ceramic vessel. Therapy and practical creativity combined.
The very art of pottery requires a mental reset as it were, a shift of gear, a step away from stress and tension into a practice which in itself invites and teaches an almost contemplative communion between matter, the clay, and the mind, heart, spirit of the maker. A beginner is taught by a good teacher to release tensions within their body as they learn sound techniques at the wheel and beyond. Attention to matter is paramount: learning to feel the clay, wedge it to prepare it for use, to coax shape and form out of clay using the tools of hand and wheel, or other shaping devices. The apprentice potter learns to love the medium and respect the pace of pottery: to learn to become a potter requires patience, good humour, and practice. No quick fix. Everything is slowed down, every step has to be gradually mastered; there are no short cuts.
The focus of the maker working on the wheel allows for an escape into a different mindset. One forgets one’s woes and starts to enjoy the challenge of working with the healing medium of clay. Everyone who has experienced an inspiring pottery class or session of making can attest to the accompanying sense of well-being and satisfaction. The joy of finally achieving one’s first finished pot is in itself a therapeutic experience. The process of making in clay requires negative thoughts and emotions to be left behind or put aside; in fact the very act of making in clay also facilitates this therapeutic effect of shaping positives out negatives. From a shapeless piece of earth emerges through the alchemy of pottery in the physical engagement of the potter’s hands, a pot, a form with meaning and character. The pots become almost like children for the maker; they speak of attentive creative work attaining the satisfaction of the finished piece. People with depression referred to try their hand at pottery experience the healing aspects of this craft.
Those who are sad or in mourning can, with the help of an inspired teacher, regain inner peace through the practice of making in clay. Given the almost universal trauma caused by the pandemic, the healing therapeutic dimensions to pottery seem all the more precious and of value in these troubled times as a means to find inner equilibrium and meaning.
To put it bluntly—2020 was a real bummer. When we entered the year, we all had that “20/20 vision” mindset of making the year one of travel, joy, discovering new hobbies, and conquering our fitness goals. But come March, that vision became a blurry mess of sheltering-in-place and being forced to throw our normal routines and our aspirations out the window.
Who would have thought that something like getting a haircut would be off-limits? Or that those monthly massages wouldn’t be around to help us unwind? 2020 forced us to get creative, and you blew us away with your stick-to-itiveness.
We recently polled you on Instagram to see which beauty and wellness services you missed the most and how you’ve re-vamped your self-care routines to stay sane during this train wreck of a year. And I must say, as I read your responses in my sweats, rocking the messiest top knot of all time, I definitely felt like I need to take it up a notch when it comes to getting ready for the workday.
Seriously—an alarming number of you have been on point when it comes to sticking to your daily morning routines and actually wearing work clothes while on Zoom calls. Kudos to you!
Curious to see what the takeaways were from our Instagram poll? Keep reading.
According to your responses, you're all sick of your exposed roots and split ends equally, with 51% of you preferring to get a haircut and 49% opting for hair color. The numbers were also pretty close when it came to your nails—with 52% of you opting for a manicure over a pedicure. Due to the pandemic, the state of the beauty industry has been on a rollercoaster of openings and closings—and they need our help and support now more than ever. If you happen to live in an area where you’re able to enjoy beauty services, make sure you show your stylist or nail artist a little bit of extra love when tipping them.
Anybody who knows me will tell you the thing I miss the most is getting a monthly massage—and 71% of you seem to agree. With most of us working from our beds or hunched over our laptops on our couches, our posture (if not our comfort) has taken a serious hit. While most of us either live in an area where massages are off-limits or we just don’t feel safe going in for one quite yet, there are some touchless spa treatments you're ready to try.
Call it wishful thinking, but I was fully expecting most of you to say, “Zoom camera off” as your go-to beauty tip—but I guess that’s just me. Instead, you've all been pretty consistent with your morning routines—working out, showering, and dressing like you're actually going into an office. Some of you are even going the extra mile and putting on a red lip and some earrings. I’m taking notes.
And even though this year’s challenges put a damper on our normal routines, it's inspired us to get creative with our skincare regimen. Some of you have added new serums and masks to your skincare arsenal, while others have tried out at-home facials for that quarantine glow. By far, one of the most popular answers was the incorporation of Gua Sha to help detoxify, brighten, and tighten your skin.
This year was one for the books. But I think it made us realize there is always wellness—and that taking care of ourselves is crucial. If you're in an area where in-house beauty services are an option, book that appointment (if you feel safe to do so). If your only option right now is to stay at home, keep carrying on with your feel-good, at-home routines.
If you're curious to see what some other wellness trends you should take note of in 2021, check out this blog.