Pottery consists of giving life to objects from the manipulation of clay. Learning pottery means learning how to make utilitarian pieces such as dishes, decorative objects, containers, sculptures, figurines… In short, you will be able to create an infinite number of objects from mother earth.
Learn pottery or learn ceramics?
If you look around you can find pottery or ceramics classes. What’s the difference? By being picky about the words, you can make one. If you want to learn pottery, you will learn how to work with clay, whether it’s turning, modeling or sculpting. The ceramist works the clay, bakes it and then decorates it.
Why learn pottery?
It is said that pottery is the new yoga… because the benefits of pottery are many:
- It is a meditative practice that allows you to clear your mind and focus on the present moment.
- It develops our creativity.
- It lowers our stress level.
- Learning pottery develops your perseverance.
- It allows you to create your everyday objects without having to buy them. In the same theme, it also allows you to offer handmade gifts!
The different types of pottery
The practice of pottery can be declined in various ways: modeling, pottery on the wheel, casting, sculpture. Each of these specialties has its own approach to the earth and each of us has our own sensibility.
I didn’t really get hooked with the modeling classes I took a few years ago and yet I loved pottery on the wheel. I could have stuck with my first experience, and fortunately I didn’t, because every branch of pottery is very different!
Modeling / shaping
The shaping or modeling of the earth is a very old technique that we find even in prehistory. Pushing, pressing and rolling the earth are primitive gestures that create a link between us and the earth. The rhythm of the work, slow and progressive, leaves time for reflection as the piece takes shape. It is a very gentle and non-physical activity.
Pottery turning is the act of creating pieces of clay using the potter’s wheel. We place our ball of clay in the center of the potter’s wheel and then create the piece by rotating the wheel. I love this practice, which is a bit physical for the arms and can cause back pain. However, it is meditative and the contact of the clay on the wheel is a privileged moment.
The principle of casting is to pour casting clay into a mold. The excess is removed after a few minutes to give life to ceramic pieces. You can reproduce your pieces identically from a mold. It is a technique that lends itself well to serial production.
Sculpture allows us to express all kinds of ideas in 3 dimensions. In general, sculpture has a visual, aesthetic and not utilitarian function. It is an art applicable to other supports such as stone or wood.
What type of pottery according to the profiles?
As I told you before, this hobby can match the profiles of so many different people! I will try to classify, without stereotyping too much, the different profiles in order to guide you in the branch of ceramics that best suits you. Casting is rarely practiced during leisure time, it is more used in a professional context.
- For a child under 6 years old
Pottery on the wheel requires to respect instructions, a protocol, to have calibrated gestures, that’s why it is not adapted to a child too young. On the contrary, learning pottery through modelling or sculpture is very beneficial for the youngest. We develop hand/eye coordination, imagination, the ability to create with the constraints imposed by the clay and pride in the work accomplished!
- For a child over 6 years old
From this age, pottery on the wheel can be proposed if the child wishes it as well as all the other branches of pottery. It is an activity that can be very beneficial for your child both in terms of creativity and the soothing side of this practice.
- With a fragile physique
If you have recurring pains, I advise you to model or sculpt. Pottery on the lathe is not recommended because it imposes an uncomfortable position, and requires strength in the arms to center.
- Learn pottery with sensations
The potter’s wheel is like a thrill ride. When you learn pottery on the wheel, you are sure to have emotions: great joys, moments of fear and discouragement. It’s a roller coaster ride!
- Give your imagination free rein
Sculpture will allow to create without limit, the only limit being the earth itself. In this way, you will learn to express your ideas through gestures and symbols.
- Learn pottery with gentleness
If you want to take your time and create without pressure, I recommend modeling. You can make a wide range of objects.
I hope you are determined to learn pottery! Find the branch of pottery that’s right for you and go for it. If in doubt, take the time to try and follow your desires! I wish you beautiful hours of pottery, and beautiful creations at your own pace!