Yesterday, to my great delight, I carried home my first batch of glazed pottery. I wrapped them in a woolen shawl and tucked them into a decrepit cardboard box. Once I was unpacked and settled, I took photos of each pot and sent them to friends and family who'd been cheering me along through the past five weeks of a beginners pottery course.
I have found learning to throw pots on a wheel is a multi-faceted experience.
I first sat down with a dear friend and Arts Therapist, Amanda Scott, in her home studio in the Northern Rivers. I was coming to the end of a short holiday and an individual pottery lesson seemed like a beautiful action in self care. Her gentle teaching, prompting and guidance led me to my first ever pot. I was ecstatic as I cradled it in my hands. I felt like I'd found my way and I was quietly confident that I would be able to throw again.
When I returned to Melbourne, I signed up for a five week beginners course at a community pottery studio in Warburton. The studio is run by another dear friend and artist, Lucy Pierce. That first session fell on a weekend that I was booked into a queer nature connection retreat. I left the retreat to drive down the winding road of the mountain and into the valley.
Lucy introduced us to the clay, wheels, and tools and gave a demonstration.
I was ready.
I wedged my clay, took to the wheel with my confidence and knowing...
...and promptly killed a whole bunch of potential pots.
I broke the pots in all the ways possible.
The clay refused to center. I pressed too hard. I didn't press hard enough.
My body was exhausted. My arms shaking.
The newly formed clay pots severed and ripped from their base, the walls collapsed, the bases were too thin, the edges too thin.
I couldn't make straight edges no matter how hard I tried.
Pot after pot died in my hands and so too did my ego. My 'quiet confidence' was shattered and I limped away from that first workshop, unsure that I would return.
I was humbled to say the least.
And I was surprised at how much it had taken out of me.
I told the story of my pot killing spree a few times, and was eventually able to laugh at myself in my process of learning. I realised that I'd struggled physically because I'd just moved house the day before... my body was exhausted before I even arrived to the class.
I found some self compassion, and resolved to return for my second week and try again.
So I tried again, and I made pots.
I made small pots. One began to collapse and I decided to keep it in it's imperfect form as a reminder of this period of learning.
I realised I didn't need to make straight edges, but that I could let my hands form curves that felt good to me.
I learned how to trim the pots once they were leather hard, and then got to play with glazes.
I have six more pots waiting for their final firing and I'm so excited to see how they turn out!
My hands miss the sensation of wet clay spinning, pressing and holding. The attentive and gentle focus as my body leans forward and in to center. The care that I feel for each new creation. I can't wait to do more!
So much gratitude for the capacity to talk through the challenge, and to show up to the practice.
Such a good reminder to stay with it when things get hard. That showing up opens new possibilities.
Chelle is a practicing art therapist, researcher, and multi-modal creative. She regularly dives into the unknown to discover what is ready to be born, deepening her trust in the abundantly creative source. For Chelle, art is a means to inquire, express, and transform. If offers the capacity to soothe, making space for new perspectives and ways of being.