Watching someone throw a piece of pottery on a potter’s wheel can be a mesmerizing experience. It may even make you think about what it would be like to throw a piece on the wheel yourself. Fortunately, ceramics are almost universally beloved, and classes to help you get started on your ceramic-making journey are generally offered somewhere near you. If you do find a pottery-making class that you want to sign up for, here are a couple of tips that will help you as you prepare to head into your first pottery class.
Gather Your Pottery-Making Materials
When you are browsing classes, you should be able to find information about certain materials that you may need for the specific class you are taking. The required materials can differ from class to class, but generally the class’s website will specify if any additional materials should be brought along with the student. Typically, the first-time student will need clothes that they are comfortable getting messy and a positive attitude.
Over the course of your first pottery-making class, you may find that it is a much messier hobby than you had originally thought. Slip, or very wet clay, is helpful in making ceramic projects, but is not so easy to remove from certain clothing. When you are using your hands to make any form of art, you can bet that things are going to get a bit chaotic. For this reason, it is best to wear clothes that you would not mind getting dirty to your first ceramic-making class.
Having a positive attitude as you go into your first pottery class is a must. As with anything that you are trying for the first time, there’s a good chance you won’t be great at it from the very start. By keeping a positive attitude, you can make sure that you stay in good spirits while you learn more about the craft. In doing so, you may just learn that you have the skills that you will be able to develop with even more practice.
Get in the Right Headspace for Ceramic-Making
Remaining positive during your first class is important because negativity can prove to be emotionally taxing during your class. This is why getting into the right headspace before you begin your pottery-making journey is paramount to your success in the ceramics world. You can mentally prepare yourself for your first pottery class by managing your expectations, gearing up to learn rather than perform, and being patient with yourself.
It’s natural to want to be great at something, but it’s not so natural to be great at something immediately. Learning how to make pottery is no different than learning how to ride a bike or how to play chess. The first time you rode a bike you probably fell over at least a couple of times, and the first few games of chess you ever played were probably fairly short and brutal. Your first time throwing a piece of pottery on the wheel will likely be no different. By understanding that you will likely struggle at first, you can manage your expectations and create a more enjoyable experience for yourself. If you’ve left your first class feeling like a failure, the issue may be that you had a skewed idea of success to begin with.
As you head into your first ceramic-making class, try to make the experience more about learning than about performing. Often, we can get caught up in the way that our performance looks to others rather than focusing on the experience that we are having in the moment. It is important to try to shift your focus away from performing for others and toward learning more about the craft. Remember that your classmates are probably in the same boat as you and may be struggling, as well. When you focus your attention on learning more about your new craft, you can work to mitigate any insecurities that may come with trying out something new.
It’s important to remember that no matter what happens, you should be patient with yourself. Remember that if professional potters hadn’t been patient with themselves when they were learning the ins and outs of ceramics, they may not have made it to where they are today. Treat yourself with the same patience that you would afford to others who may be in your position. If you find that you are being hard on yourself, try to evaluate yourself from the perspective of someone else in your class. After all, wouldn’t you give some grace to someone else who was just starting out as a potter?
Enjoy Your First Pottery Experience
When it comes to the actual experience of the pottery class, the best advice is to simply enjoy yourself. Immerse yourself in the craft and have fun with it. Learning a new trade doesn’t have to be stressful or frustrating. You can get the most out of your first pottery class by asking questions and getting to know your instructor, paying attention to how making pottery makes you feel, and not taking it too seriously.
Your instructor is there to help you learn and to make the experience an enjoyable one. By asking your instructor questions and getting to know them, you can learn more about pottery’s positive impacts and any helpful tips that your instructor may have for you. By getting to know your instructor, you can also determine if this is someone that you would like to keep learning from or if you would rather visit more classes before deciding to go any further.
One of the many health benefits of making ceramics is its soothing capabilities. Working with clay has an effect similar to meditation, as it slows one’s heart rate and regulates blood pressure. By paying attention to how you feel when you work with the clay, you may find out that you enjoy making pottery even more than you expected to.
Lastly, try not to take yourself or the craft too seriously. Potters are a notoriously silly bunch and making pottery should be more stress-relieving than it is stress-inducing. If you happen to make a mistake or a piece doesn’t turn out as you would like it to, try to laugh it off and let it go. The best thing about clay is its ability to be remolded and turned into a brand-new piece.
Pottery Experiences at Fowler’s Clay Works in Gatlinburg, TN
At Fowler’s Clay Works, we know how it is to start your pottery journey. We’ve been there, too! While our pottery experiences may not turn you into a potter overnight, they do offer you an opportunity to try something new during your Smoky Mountain vacation. We have amazing instructors who will take the time to help you improve your skills, whatever level they may be at. Students can choose to build either a pot or a mug in one of our two classes, which can be taken by potters of any skill level. Students even get to enjoy the fruits of their labor as the final products are shipped to the provided address upon final completion. Here at Fowler’s Clay Works, we have seen the beauty of creating pottery firsthand, and we want you to experience it, too. Contact us to book your pottery experience or to learn more.