This is a guest post by Sarah Harper, founder of Happy By Harper.
And breathe..... That feeling of exhaling, of the pressure leaving your body, of the day's worries making a swift exit out of your head, of your shoulders dropping and the tension easing. That is how I felt the first time I held a ball of clay in my hands, and the feeling I get every time now.
My first introduction to clay wasn't a particularly happy one. I was in a really low place, struggling with my mental health, having time off work to try to get better. I went to my parents' house for a few days for a break from London, and mindlessly went into my Mum's garage studio, asking if I could have a go on her pottery wheel - which she's had since I was born, but I never had any interest in.
The first few goes I was absolutely terrible - I couldn't make anything bigger than an inch tall, and could not master the skill of 'centreing' the clay on the wheel. But even still, every piece I created made me so happy! What a miracle - that you can make such varied things that last forever, out of effectively mud!
Over the next few months, learning how to do pottery played a huge part in my feeling better. After a short spell of six pottery lessons, I took the plunge and rented a space in a shared studio, with my own space, my own materials, and no one showing me the ropes. Gulp. Slowly but surely I practiced, failed, and practiced again, and started making bigger, less wonky things - though with my fair share of disasters!
To this day, nearly 2 years since starting, I still get so much joy working with clay. Whether that's throwing on the wheel or building things by hand, the feeling remains - the mindfulness and calmness from using your hands and creating something completely unique and different every time, no matter how hard you try to make things look the same! The feeling of opening the kiln and seeing what comes out each time is completely magical.
If you think having a go with clay might be up your street, I hope you'll be trying try it out in my upcoming knack workshop! It will be the perfect introduction for anyone interested in working with clay or just trying out something new. We'll be using air dry clay which does what it says on the tin - no need for kiln firings (at over 1200 degrees centigrade, not your normal oven!). See what you think and, you never know, you could be a potter in no time!
Sarah Harper is the founder of ethical homeware brand Happy By Harper, making homeware to make people happy.
Sarah ran knack's very first online workshop in May 2020 and we are pleased to be working together again for this month's clay workshop!