Yesterday was fun. Kevin and I joined some friends and went to a local pottery class. Our facilitator, Nancy, was helpful, friendly and encouraging as she put to use her twenty-five years, or so, of practice.
Nancy began by telling us a little about the history of pottery and then she set about getting us to make ‘pinch-pots.’ One of the things Nancy had said about pottery making was that you need to have a pretty still hand. Well, as a person with Parkinson’s, I thought this would be a challenge.
So, having each formed a pinch-pot and become familiar with the feel of the clay, we were led over to our tables and potters wheels. Nancy then described and demonstrated how to form a small pot. I think that, at this point, we all started to wonder whether we would truly be able to form a pot and produce anything worth firing in the kiln. It looked quite daunting.
That said, we got on with the task in hand. Of course, there were moments of hilarity as we watched Nancy, and then each other, form rather outrageously phallic shapes within the process of forming the pots. It was as if we’d all become embarrassed high school teens at school in a biology class!
Here are some photos of us in the pottery class:
I made a tongue-in-cheek short video, as a keepsake for our pottery class day. Here is the video:
Making a fun, or even serious, video as a memento of a day with friends is a lovely way to hold a memory. Have you made videos of events with your friends or would you give it a try, if not?
From a Parkinson’s perspective, this was challenging. The dexterity and strength required by my hands was difficult. My hands cannot be fully stilled unless I close down most of my functions; even breathing, and focus entirely on keeping my hands still. It worked, but holding my breath so many times was not a nice feeling.
Among all of the joking references to the movie ‘Ghost’, we were all keenly listening to Nancy and trying our best to produce a pot or bowl that we would be pleased with. I’m delighted to say that two our of three of my attempts seemed okay, though the third was a disaster. This was due to there being a time limit on my hands functioning. I had reached a point where cramping had started and so I sat out the latter part of the class and took photos while the others continued.
I was pleased with myself as I had managed to succeed in staying pretty still and I had used tools on my pots to shape them, to soften the edges and to smooth the top open edges. We all managed to produce a few items that would then be able to be fired up in the kiln, by Nancy, later on.
I would recommend that if you have an illness or disability that affects your dexterity, co-ordination, mobility etc. that you perhaps visit the venue in advance, to ensure that you would be able to cope. For example, we had to sit on small stools, so there was no back support. We had to sit with legs astride so we could lean into the potter’s wheel. We had to lean and reach across and up for tools. We had to exert considerable force onto the clay, in the early stages of the pot formation and we had to have the ability for a gentler touch and a more steady hand later on. Washing hands required walking in a restricted space, around tables, to be able to reach the sink. I am sure that not everyone would be able to do that. As stated, I ended up with cramping but IO expected that and so featured it into my thoughts on attending this class. Understanding yourself and your illness or disability is vital, when accessing any services, I feel.
Having chosen our glazes, Nancy will now fire the pottery. She will add a glaze we each chose and she will file off any little lumps and bumps that remain around the bases of our items. Our pottery will be ready for us, sometime in September.
Overall, I found pottery making to be relaxing; therapeutic, creative and fun. I do recognise that I have a limit on my ability to function; unlike the others in the group. Parkinson’s is annoying but I just have to accept the limitations, once I have pushed far enough. I can see that developing skills at pottery making would be good and so myself and some of the others are going to sign up for weekly classes. I can see myself wanting to get quite into this beautiful craft.
I would recommend any type of art or craft activity with a group of friends. It is a lovely way to share time together and you can guarantee having a chuckle, learning new things and having a memorable experience to look back on, together.
I will revisit this post in September, when the pottery is ready for collection. I will add photos of the finished pieces.
Have you ever been to a pottery class? What was it like, for you, and did you continue developing the skill? If you make pottery and would like to share something about your experience and a link to your web site, please comment below and provide those details. Do you have a disability and have felt unsure about whether to try something like making pottery? What are your thoughts on this?