Throwing pots is hard! I’ve never been so bad at an art form before. Am I spoiled? Am I delusional about my talent level? I’m an artist! I graduated from RISD! I know how to draw, paint, weave, knit, crochet, sculpt…  How can spinning clay stump me so badly? But somehow it does.



When I signed up last spring for a weekly ceramics class, I fantasized that I’d settle in front of the wheel and after a few spins, maybe 2 or 3 classes, I’d be whipping out masterpieces. I was even so naïve as to think I’d see my first finished piece within 2 weeks! I really had no clue what went into pottery.


It was tempting to quit after the first class. I did everything wrong. I held the clay at the wrong angle. I didn’t brace my arms correctly. I trimmed in the wrong direction. I splattered my neighbors every time I tossed away waste clay. I had so much slip on the wheel that I kept scraping up the side of my hand.  I was bleeding for my art! I had scabs the next day.But I’m not a kid anymore. I’m not allowed to quit after the first try, even when the first try was as bad as this one. So the next week I faced the wheel again...

It’s been nearly a year since that first class. I can’t say I’m much improved, but I’ve learned so much. How to center clay, pull it, shape it, trim it, glaze it. I’ve learned about slips and chattering  and slumping, how to make a bowl from slab rolling or from pinching. I’ve learned what leather-hard clay feels like and how fragile dried clay is before being bisque fired. I’ve learned I still have a lot to learn!

The wheel is not yet my friend. I still get nervous every time I face it. But I keep going back. Partly because I’m determined not to let it win. But really, because I remembered why I love to do this. I love using my hands. The final product is nice to have, but I love the journey of getting there even more.