Pottery as a grounding practice

Or, why I love pottery so much

I mean it's literal dirt. From the ground. In your hands. And then you make stuff. Out of literal dirt. From the ground. ✨ Grounding ✨ (ground breaking, I know)

Ok, enough with the puns, I promise (I don't). Let's get into it!

Pottery and my stress management journey

A long time ago my team organized a lunch and learn with a psychologist. I think - I don't remember much of the details. But it was about stress management: a much needed skill in the tech startup world I come from. The person enumerated a few ways to manage stress. I'm sure there was stuff like exercising, sleeping, eating well, right, but the one that I was most attracted to was this idea of occupying the hands to empty the mind.

You've maybe heard this before, or felt it, but I find it particularly effective. That's why some people do puzzles or legos and it's how some people feel about cooking (I don't know that my cooking could be described as stress-relieving, but if that's your case, I love that for you).

The first time I took a pottery class, I came out of it feeling like something had changed in me; like I had been moved. It was at a pivotal point in my life, where I had been under a lot of stress for a long time and I was ready to move on. I had just quit my 9-5 job and, despite being really really bad at it, this first pottery class was one of the first moments in a long time that I felt really relaxed.

And then there's the whole "you should meditate and spend time in silence sometimes". Which I find really challenging. But working at the pottery wheel really does that for me, and even though sometimes I get caught up in the whirlwind of life in a startup, I try to always make an effort to just focus on the clay when I get the opportunity to. It's my little piece of peace, and I love to share it with others during class.

Though I love throwing and trimming and the grounding aspect of these steps come naturally to me, glazing has to be my least favorite step. Consequently, it's also the one that I have to be the most mindful of. Deep breaths, put a comforting podcast on, or music, or a movie, and take my time to make good decisions about glazing and allow myself to be as detail oriented as my future self will wish I had been once the pots come out of the kiln.

Holding my own completed handmade pieces in my hands (that's not redundant at all) is also a really gratifying experience. For a long time, I kept some of the very small very first pieces I made next to my computer on my desk as little fidget objects I would hold during meetings or more stressful parts of my day.

My pottery practice today

My pottery practice today is one where I work with my intuition, my eyes, my hands, how the clay feels... I haven't intentionally developed a style, I've just done the things that felt authentic and looked good to my eyes. However, this past month, as I've worked on different prompts of Oc-throw-ber, I've come to think about my style as objects that a woodland fairy may have in her home. The stuff you bring to your chalet: cozy, muted colours, natural neutrals - if that makes any sense!

The second aspect to my pottery practice is teaching class. It's my way of sharing this work that I love with others, and I'm always so proud when students decide to continue taking classes and making their own pots. It's a very gratifying thing, and I learn so much from my students.

A picture of me holding a tall pot I just threw A picture of me looking up, holding a pot I'm carving in my hands

Some snaps of me working on pots.
They're stills from videos I take when throwing and trimming and I feel like you can see the stress leaving my body 😂


🤎 Clara

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