It always amazes me how certain skills in other areas of life are transferable to working with clay on the Potter’s Wheel. This weekend we had a helicopter pilot who proved himself a real whiz on the Potter’s wheel. Although he had never made pots before, he mastered the technique almost instantly. When I quizzed him on his natural ability, he likened the experience to flying a helicopter! Apparently the smallest of movement of the joystick (we’re talking millimeters) has a dramatic effect on the direction of the aircraft. The same sensitivity is required when gauging the thickness of the clay and pulling the material upwards.

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Having been a ‘thrower’ for all of my working life, I sometimes take for granted the therapeutic benefits of wrestling with a spinning lump of mud! Once a month I am reminded of these benefits as between six to ten (usually clay novices) get to try their hand on our weekend ‘throw a pot’ workshops. It is both refreshing and enlightening to hear what each individual personally gleans from the experience.
To make a pot successfully on the wheel, demands both physical strength and mental discipline – any loss of focus can quickly result in a wobbly pot or even total clay meltdown! As one participant this weekend so eloquently put it “All the usual thoughts, concerns and anxieties fizzing around our heads at any one time get completely suppressed as we concentrate solely on the stages of production”. She went on to explain that she’d felt so relaxed and refreshed after day one, it was as if she’d spent a weekend at a health farm.

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