I made my first pots in August 2018, and I sometimes need to remind myself that it’s not even been a year since I started my first pottery class. Sharing a studio with dozens of extremely skilled people can sometimes be intimidating, and it’s hard not to fall into the comparison trap. Whenever I go to the ‘finished work’ shelf in the studio, I admire the craftsmanship and creativity of my fellow potters. They make truly great stuff! It’s inspiring, but I also catch myself thinking “I wish my pots would look like this”. It’s hard not to be impatient, but I know and have been told by several teachers that pottery is a craft, and you get better at it by practicing.
It’s annoying and amazing in equal measures how making something – anything – forces you to be patient, and that’s particularly true for working with clay. There’s so many steps to follow, from wedging the clay to get the air bubbles out to making sure you don’t apply the glaze too thickly. If you rush a step, it will show – air bubbles trapped in your clay might make your object crack, and thick glaze application can lead to drips that form at the bottom of your pot and make it stick to the kiln shelf.
Looking at the first pots I made now, 9 months after I made them, makes me a little bit proud: even though I beat myself up for still making wonky pots, you can see a big difference between the ones I made in August to my latest ones. It’s actually great how the clay objects show my progress and the things I have learned. But that’s a story for another time.