Tamra Booth, Keeeps
Many of us, including me, start each new year with such great intentions – to be more organised, to drink more water, to be nicer, to learn something new or engage in a new hobby but come March most of these have gone out the window. But 2020 has been a very different year for us all and finding new ways of passing the time and relaxing has become paramount for managing our well-being and mental health. At the beginning of lockdown, the initial shock and resistance to abandoning our everyday routines was replaced by inane boredom and a need for a welcome break from the zoom calls, home schooling, and lack of ‘alone time’. Jigsaw puzzles didn’t quite cut the mustard, paint by numbers seemed a bit fraudulent and baking was nigh on impossible unless you happened to have your own flour mill!
Step forward pottery – the traditional and fun craft that’s seen a fashionable resurgence over the last decade. In fact, pottery has become so mainstream that it has been the subject of a number of Vogue articles over the last few years, even being lauded as “the new yoga”1.
So, what is it about pottery that is taking the world by storm and why is it such a comfort during this current period of uncertainty?
For many, it’s the idea of being able to make something that will not only look pretty but will be functional as well. Many a novice in the world of clay envisages showing off their stunning new bowl (or for those who are really ambitious – a whole set of bowls) which will be applauded by all who see. As all veteran potters know, this is never going to happen – but it’s still a lovely dream. But that’s the beauty of pottery, your bowl doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact, it’s often the imperfections that make it a joy forever.
It’s also knowing that you don’t need to be an expert, as you start out, or ever, to still be able to make a piece of art to be proud of. One of my recent attempts, a pen holder, takes pride of place on my desk – yes, it’s been mistaken as something one of my children made at school, but I still get a little thrill from knowing that it’s all my own creation.
Then there is the actual practice of making the pottery. The feel and smell of the clay as it moves through your fingers, the concentration as you mould the mixture, you can feel your anxieties lifting as your mind relaxes and wanders off to a calm place – you can see why Vogue called it the new yoga!
An hour or two away from the current stresses, the kids, the partner, the job, an hour or two of mindful indulgence. Heaven!
For those lucky enough to have a home studio, the peace and tranquillity is even more pronounced - a true escapism. But even if you don’t have a home studio, or even a potter’s wheel, you can still enjoy pottery at home.
Sculpd offer an excellent home pottery kit for beginners with everything you need to get started – in fact it was recently awarded the Indy Best Buy for Adult Craft Kits by The Independent2. I also stumbled across mobile pottery recently via the lovely Fay De Winter of State of Clay, who runs mobile pottery workshops. On Fay's recommendation, I purchased a mobile wheel for my TikTok-addicted 12 year old daughter (seen above) who now spends hours crafting on the wheel.
You don’t even need to be conventionally creative to enjoy pottery, it’s such a sensory art and more about the way it makes you feel than what it looks like at the end. And we can all aspire to the stunning ceramics and porcelains that the experts make or simply get ideas for our next masterpiece by viewing their works at online galleries.
So there you have it, a screen-free, mindful, relaxing and yet productive hobby. Is it any wonder that so many have embraced the wonderful world of clay?
Let's get potting!
- Mechling, L. January 2017. Pottery Is the New Yoga! Here's to the Mind-Clearing Benefits of Clay. Vogue On-line.
- Denham, J. June 2020. 10 Best Adults Craft Kits: From Sewing to Candle Making. Independent Online.