#KilnIt: 8 Life Lessons Pottery Teaches You

#KilnIt: 8 Life Lessons Pottery Teaches You

Working with clay teaches you how to work with yourself.
948
views

Besides the days of working summer jobs, trying to swim as much as humanly possible, and having drinks with those friends from home that you miss the rest of the year, summertime is also the time to learn new things, expand your comfort zone and try out whatever you've been wanting to explore.

This summer, my artistic and generous mother let me tag along to her pottery classes, and apart from the task of actually learning how to coax clay into functional shapes, we've discovered that working clay comes with scoops of its own zen wisdom that can be applied to everyday life.

Sometimes it takes welcoming in a foreign experience and starting from the beginning to remind you that life is comprised of lessons no matter where you look.

Here are just a handful (wink nod) of lessons that pottery taught me this summer and I found useful enough to want to share with you.

1. Listen to your teachers. Like, really listen.

Beginning a new craft at 21, I was excited and wary of looking like an idiot. Sometimes, that tendency can make people (including me) try to do it our "own way" as if to say, "hey, I'm an adult and I got this!"

Uh-huh. Every time I tried to embellish on the technique my teacher showed me, the pot would wobble and get bent out of shape, almost to remind me that everyone starts as a beginner and toeing the line wasn't going to help anyone!

Stay humble and listen to those that know better than you. Working a potter's wheel and wet clay helps you notice when you're getting too big for your britches by immediately displaying your imbalances externally! No denying it.

2. Sometimes we all need a helping hand.

There are certain lessons in life, and in pottery, that you just cannot learn on your own. People like me like to think we can tackle the world on our own, and that our problems should be ours alone. Good luck if you think we will ever bother others with them, unless it's dire.

Working with clay is a highly personal art form, but when I couldn't get it right, my teacher just holds my hands under her own and helps me discover what she's talking about. Every learning style is different, but having a helping hand never hurts! You might find another perspective that works better.

3. Don't be afraid of mistakes.

Working with clay is both a delicate and forgiving medium because you can always scrap it and reuse the material, but it's so malleable that it's super easy to muck up in the creation process! One of the best aspects of pottery is the ease of starting over.

My teacher has her students that are too cautious of messing up intentionally wreck a piece on the wheel to feel the "worst case scenario" and get over it. She says that you can't learn what the line feels like until you drive straight past it. Being a perfectionist, this was a great lesson for me to learn.

4. Center yourself completely.

The first thing a potter will tell you is that an uncentered piece is a worthless and ugly one. In fact, the first thing you do on a wheel is make sure the clay is perfectly centered.

You can't hope for a centered piece unless you yourself are centered and peaceful. Centering means your hands and fingers are working in perfect balance on either side, your body is centered over the wheel and your mind is focused on the task at hand.

It's entirely tangible when the clay is slightly off, and a breath of fresh air when it's on.

5. Hold your calm in the storm.

Stand your ground. Let the clay work against your hands as the wheel turns the clay against the eroding rocks of your fingertips. If you let the clay take the wheel (pun intended), the piece will be ruined. Only by holding your power and taking up the space you are worthy of retaining just by your existence without apology.

Don't let the clay or anyone push you around. You are the defining rocks that alter other peoples' courses without you even noticing! The lessons you learn from others, others will learn from you too.

6. Balance is crucial.

The key to pottery is balance, particularly balance of pressure from your hands against the velocity of the wheel's spin speed and the consistency of the clay. Making sure the clay stays moist enough, your fingers are matching each other's pressure and going in the right direction at all times without uncentering the clay on the wheel gives the mind plenty to keep track of in real time!

It becomes the ultimate meditation of mind and body while the clay's earthy smell and feel grounds you completely. Plus, it's productive!

7. Find freedom within the rules.

Learning the technique is important and necessary to success in the making beautiful, useful pottery pieces. But, some of my favorite pieces I created over the course of this summer are the ones that went a little awry and became one-of-a-kind in the process. As with most anything you will attempt in your lifetime, working clay needs a basis of understanding for the chemistry that makes it tick, but the serious fun comes with playing and bending the rules a little bit.

8. Don't sweat the small stuff.

"Happy accidents" find their way into everything on the planet, and clay is no exception. I have learned through pottery that little smudges or a slightly unbalanced pot is not the end of the world. Though I want to indulge my OCD tendencies of perfecting each piece for hours, my teacher would always encourage me, "You're done. Next!" She knew what I needed to hear to be productive and satisfied.

I have become happy to appreciate each piece's unique characteristics!

If you have a pottery studio nearby, or a friend that throws pots, jump in and explore the many lessons it has to offer, as well as the beautiful works of art that come of it!

Cover Image Credit: Chris Lewis Photography

Popular Right Now

14 Stages Of Buying Jonas Brothers Concert Tickets As A 20-Something In 2019

"Alexa, play "Burnin' Up" by the Jonas Brothers."

7381
views

In case you missed it, the Jonas Brothers are back together and, let me tell you, they're giving us some major jams. For those of us who were there when it all began back in 2007 with their first album, It's About Time, this has been one of the most important events of the year. But nothing, and I mean nothing can rival the excitement every twenty-something felt as the Jonas Brothers announced their Happiness Begins tour. I, for one, put my name in for ticket presale, have been following every single social media site related to the tour/group, and, of course, listening to the Jonas Brothers on repeat. And if you did manage to snag tickets, then you know that this is how your brain has been ever since they announced the tour.

1. Finding out that they're going on tour

2. Hopefully entering your name into the lottery to get presale tickets

3. Finding out that you actually get to buy presale tickets

4. Impatiently waiting for your presale tickets by listening to their songs on repeat

5. And remembering how obsessed you used to be (definitely still are) with them

6. Trying to coordinate the squad to go to the concert with you

7. Waiting in the Ticketmaster waiting room...

8. ...And feeling super frantic/frustrated because there are about 2000 people in line in front of you

9. Actually getting into the site to buy the tickets

10. Frantically trying to find seats you can actually pay for because, let's be real, you're twenty-something and poor

11. Managing to actually get the seats you want

12. Joyfully letting your squad know that you've done it

13. Crying a little because all of the dreams you've had since 2007 are coming true

14. Listening to every single Jonas Brothers song on repeat (again)

If you, like me, have finally fulfilled one of your dreams since childhood, then congrats, my friend! We've made it! Honestly, of all the things I've done in my adult life, this might be the one that child me is the most proud of.

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

11 Amazing TV Shows That Are Ending in 2019

All good things must come to an end.

660
views

It might just be the beginning of 2019 but there are many TV series wrapping up already. There are many breathtaking and original pilots around along with several reboots coming. This might be one of the greatest year for TV.

However, all good things must come to an end. Some series have been planned out and are going to be finished while others have been cut short. Sadly, here's a list of TV series to say goodbye to this year.

1. The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

Final Date: May

12 Seasons//279 episodes

2. Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

www.youtube.com

Final Date: End of 2019

7 seasons//91 episodes

3. Jane the Virgin (CW)

www.flickr.com

Final Date: Mid-late 2019

5 seasons//100 episodes

4. Games of Thrones (HBO)

HBO

Final Date: Summer

8 Seasons//73 episodes

5. Broad City (Comedy Central)

Comedy Central

Final Date: March

5 seasons//50 episodes

6. VEEP (HBO)

HBO

Final Date: Spring

7 seasons//67 episodes

7. Homeland (Showtime)

Showtime

Final date: Summer

8 seasons//96 episodes

8. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

Final date: January 25

4 seasons//52 episodes

9. The Affair (Showtime)

Amazon

Final Date: End of 2019

5 seasons//42 episodes

10. Friends From College (Netflix)

Final Date: End of 2019

2 seasons//16 episodes

11. Crashing (HBO)

HBO

Final Date: End of 2019

3 seasons//24 episodes

Related Content

Facebook Comments