Growing up, one of our neighbours did pottery. She had a pottery wheel under her house and spent hours turning clay into wonky, artistic creations. I was FASCINATED. I’d been digging pottery out of the local bushland for years and making small things that would break as soon as they dried, and I was drawn to the concept of proper pottery as a moth to a flame. By the time I got the opportunity to try ceramics at high school however, I was more interested in taking Commerce and business type classes that would get me a job in the big wide world, and surely pottery was just some sort of time wasting hobby? I didn’t have time for that, I needed to get out and earn a living so I could start a life! I put creating with clay behind me, and didn’t look back.
Decades later, that same neighbour was moving house and was getting rid of her pottery wheel – a huge, clunky, non electric foot pedaled wheel with a built in seat, it’s quite the contraption. My father remembered my interest and grabbed the pottery wheel. and eventually drove it through two states to present it to me. I was touched, but I honestly thought that particular artistic ship had sailed. The giant contraption cluttered up the side of the house for ages, and I began to think about getting rid of it. They sell online for a few hundred dollars.
Something stopped me though, and I thought that I should honour my fathers intentions by at least taking a pottery class and giving the rickety machine a go before getting rid of it. The tiniest effort revealed a local pottery group that offers beginners classes. I was about to discuss this with a friend over coffee when she bought it up with me as something she’d been thinking of. Enough! That’s it! I thought, the universe is telling me to do some bloody pottery! So we joined the class, and I did.
I love it. The class is small, just the six of us and two volunteer teachers. My friend and I are the youngest by a few decades, but these ladies are such great company. Creative, funny, sometimes raucous; we spend every Monday morning discussing everything from nudity in Europe, to animal rescue, to how to make pubic hair out of clay (use a garlic press). This is not a wheel class, we are making things using the pinch pot technique, coils, slabs, and molds. We are learning about different types of clay, different types of glaze, kiln temperatures, where to shop. My instagram feed is full of inspiring potters. I’m not pleased with the work I’m bringing home, but I am learning a huge amount while I have fun. I’m signing up for the wheel class next semester, and I’m even becoming a member of the association, so I can access the kilns, discount clay, the facilities, and mostly the potters themselves. That rickety old wheel is still cluttering up the side of the house, but hopefully not for long.