Raise your hands if you feel me?
I often talk about how I learned to throw on the pottery wheel when I’m teaching beginners classes. Above is a pic of my very first attempts on the wheel at a friends place. After this I was hooked. I used to go to Northcote Pottery Supplies every weekend for years and that’s where I taught myself how to throw. While I never did a short course in throwing, I asked many, many questions and watched many, many YouTube’s and made many, many mistakes along the way. I suppose I could have done a course, it definitely would have sped up the learning process, for sure! I tend to do things the “hard way” in life. And the thing about ceramics, for me, is that there is always more to learn. Figuring out how I do things is the process of learning that I love, and the exact thing that has kept me inspired for about 10 years.
Talking to students that I teach today, I find myself reflecting on that time as a beginner thrower often. Mostly acknowledging and empathizing with them about the difficulties centering, disappointment with failures and wanting to cry when your work has cracked. I get it. Every ceramicist does. And as much as all that struggle can seem a bit doom and gloom, it was also the driving force to my inquiry into clay as a material and ceramics as a process. Every crack was investigated and every failure was dissected for inspection.
However, centering was a different beast that required my body to respond in ways that it just wasn’t use to operating. Hands held positions they had never held before and sometimes they just didn’t do what they were told. Lack of control and fumbling fingers where a source of silly mistakes and frustrations. Even choosing the right tools for my hands and my purposes was an investigation. And it all took time.
Thinking about how automatic my processes have become after 10 years, it is hard to imagine not being able to do this that way that I do this now. But stepping into a class, where I am now the teacher, I feel a huge amount of gratitude for the process and am humbled by the materials all over again. Knowing what I now know and building my skills to a level where I am confident to set an intention to throw what I want, I am all still very aware that this process is fluid and I’ll never know all of the things. I see ceramicists who have been doing this for 30+ years and I look at them and their knowledge with stars in my eyes.
As hard as ceramics is sometimes, it is not even the ceramics part that is the hardest part. It’s the running of a business that I never really intended on having that gets me. But while I am learning and enjoying that part too, I think that is a story for another time! This one-woman show is on a roll and is hungry for the next learning adventure.