Our student, Becky sharing on her regular pottery class (part 2)
The relation between pottery and mental health
Pottery is a practice that requires a huge amount of commitment and concentration. I can finally see it why pottery is a good activity to improve the mental well being of individuals. For someone like me, devoting time to ceramics has always been hard for me, especially because it’s not something that you can just spend an hour or two doing at the end of the work day. Not only do you have to spend a lot of time on the wheel, but you’ve also got to devote time to recycle your clay, prep your clay, glaze your works and load kilns. After throwing a piece on the wheel, I need to ensure I trim it while it’s still leather hard (not completely dried up) – and I can’t leave too much time in between otherwise it goes bone dry (dried to a texture of a cripsy biscuit, like perched soil). Of course, I’m excited to come to the studio, but sometimes you just can’t find the time and you’ve got to rearrange other commitments around your practice. Time management is something I’m still learning, not just for ceramics but life in general. In the end, we all need to prioritise our life out and figure out what’s important for us.
Pottery and its relation to life
In some way, the process of throwing is pretty analogous to life. With all the commitment required, sometimes you want to see physical result (in the form of a beautiful piece, etc). However, sometimes things don’t really go to plan. That’s the nature of pottery, and while you may be the one moulding the clay, the clay still has some say on how things go.
Pottery classes demand both mentally and physically, and there are days where I’m just not in the right place. One wrong move can lead to destroy something you have spent the past few hours on. Maybe I accidentally trimmed right through my base, or maybe I mindlessly chopped off the neck of my pot with a wire. Or perhaps right at the end, during the high firing, your glaze runs all the way down and destroys both your beautiful pot and the kiln shelf. At points like this, it does feel like all the time and effort I’ve just put into something has went to null. Pottery has taught me that sometimes you can work incredibly hard, and things fall apart a little. But I’ve learnt to just say “oh well” and start again, because know you’re equipped with the knowledge you didn’t have before, and you hopefully won’t make the same mistakes again. Through this process, you learn the art of reassuring yourself.
Wheel Throwing teaches me to be mentally calm. To think clearly, and know when to speed the wheel up or slow the wheel down. There is a lot of peace in this process, and I hope anyone who gets on the wheel for wheel-throwing will be able to feel the same things I do when I touch clay, to find your own inner peace.
The 3Arts studio is to me, the perfect place to practice. Its location right opposite a little field is very welcoming, and I enjoy staring at the green while I am on the wheel sometimes.