Make Your Own Clay Pots, by Ruth Thomson

My degree was as different as it gets from heading across town to Cyan Clayworks to try my hand at making clay pots as part of Innovative Learning Week.

The afternoon session began with a demonstration by Fiona Thompson and Chris Donnelly  (both professional potters) of pot making techniques, which have essentially stayed the same for the past 4000 years (or so), and soon we were on our way, bashing and rolling lumps of clay in an attempt to make pieces of pottery worthy of being dug up in 4000 years’ time.

Let loose on the clay, creative juices were soon flowing, and I must admit that the ambitious ideas of the room, from sunflower plates to teapots to funky post-modern basins, made my solid round thing look a bit boring. It also looked a lot like I wine bottle, I’m not sure if there is any subconscious significance in that…

As well as coil technique we also had a go at making something on the potter’s wheel. If coil pot making is the Curling of ceramics (slow, therapeutic and weirdly addictive) then the potter’s wheel is probably Ski Jumping – much quicker, and much more likely to go badly wrong. But awesome. With the pressure of your finger in the right place, you can turn a vase into a bowl in one second, and hence watching the demonstration was not unlike watching a magic show. But the most surprising part was that at the end of the session, I had made a pot with it that actually looked like a pot!

Overall, the ceramic workshop was an insightful and enjoyable afternoon – plus I now have two pots to take home, so two less Christmas presents to buy!


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