Many years ago now I used to go to pottery evening classes.
I loved it. The feel and texture of the clay, the idea of forming vessels from this mallable material, the glazes and the myriad effects that could be achieved. It was both creative and restful, meditative, and calming.
Then we moved up north, and we had three babies, and busy jobs, and a house to restore, and the pottery had to take a backseat for a while. Despite this, spying it in an outbuilding at a place that sold fleeces and spinning supplies, we impulsively bought a potter's wheel, which then also sat, not quite forgotten, but certainly neglected, in D's tool shed. Every so often, when in there, I'd walk over and stroke over the scratched and marked and dented sides of the wheel, hoping but not quite planning, that one day I might return to pottery.
It seemed a long way off, because there were so many variables, so many ifs and buts, so many problems to sort. Where would I get the clay? Yes, such things can be ordered online, but clay is heavy and it seemed mad to order one bag or a couple of bags and to pay perhaps £30 in postage because of the weight, when the clay alone would perhaps be worth £10. And what about glazes? What would I need? How would I store it safely? How much would it cost? Glazes, if you order more than one (and what's the fun in only having one colour?!), are costly, and, more importanly, they are not safe things have around children. Very often glazes are highly toxic, containing lead and all sorts of other dangerous substances, and they have to be stored and used safely.
Then there is the forbidding expense of a kiln. As a hobby potter I never considered the purchase of a kiln as something that I could justify. These are expensive items, and again, I am not convinced they are a perfect fit with three young children. Where we lived before it was possible, for a small fee, to use the kiln at the local college (where I'd taken the evening classes), but I hadn't really managed to find such a place around here.
Nevertheless, a few months ago I found myself wondering if I could manage another class. I had found one fairly local, at Hull College, and I was just about to enrol when my attention was drawn to another class, much closer, and at a much better time for us. It's been brilliant and all those skills that I thought I'd long forgotten just seem to come back to me.
And the best thing? The ceramics artist who runs it also offers deals that include clay, glazes and firing.
I may have become a little obsessed with clay since...
These are some of the clay experiments from this week, all done at home - I forgot to take pictures of any projects at the studio.
(large platter with inward curving rim and root detail)
(Experiment with coiled vessel construction and pinching of ridges)
(further experimentation with ridges, this time added onto coiled structure)
I've even managed to rope the boys in. ;)
Boy #1's masterpiece
Boy #3's coil pot with 'decorations' :)
Boy #2's 'think big' coil pot plus a star made by boy #1