Today was my first pottery class! And. I. LOVED it!! As I have mentioned before, I have always wanted to try my hand at pottery since I first saw someone doing pottery at Tannehill State Park when I was a child, and I was not disappointed!
CahabaClayWorks offers several classes taught by several teachers, and I chose the Tuesday morning class because: 1) My husband is at home on Tuesdays to watch our kids and 2) Tena Payne, whose children I went to school with, was the teacher for this class. There were 3 of us for this first class today, which in my opinion was great because it allowed Tena to give us more one-on-one time. And at the beginning anyway, we really needed it!
Tena started the class by telling us about clay. It’s straight from the earth. It is the end result of erosion and is found all over the world. It also comes in a variety of colors. You can make it into any shape you want and change it as much as you want, but once you fire it, it will last forever. That’s how archeologists learn about ancient civilizations is primarily through the pottery they find because it is the most well-preserved.
Then she made some spiritual applications. (after asking permission to do so with the class). God calls Himself the Potter, and He calls us the clay. He comes and digs us out of the “earth”, out of the filth of our sin. We are unable to come to Him first, just like the clay has no power on its own to come to the potter. God cleans all the dirt and impurites out of us to make us something that He can use. And then He molds us and shapes us. We cannot tell Him what we want to look like. It is completely up to the Potter. There are many different tools you can use when making pottery, some of them are “normal” tools (like a sponge), and some of them are quite strange (like a corn-cob-looking…thing). The spiritual application there is do not be surprised at the unlikely tools God uses in our lives to shape us into His vessel, and do not resist the process. Once a piece of clay is shaped and left to air dry, it will try to go back to it’s original shape. How true of us as well. As Christians, we are so quick to fall back into the sins and habits that God just rescued us from, just like the Israelites who wanted to go back to Egypt. And then of course, there is the firing process. (which we didn’t do today). It hardens the vessel into the shape the potter made, and it becomes a useful and beautiful object. The fiery trials in our lives God uses to transform us into a vessel pleasing and useful to Him and to those He brings into our lives. I LOVED it! I don’t know why, but I had goose bumps as she shared all of this with us. Oh, and another thing, if during the process of making the piece of pottery, the clay goes awry, the potter doesn’t throw it away, he/she reclaims it, and starts all over again. And God never gives up on us, but reclaims us and makes us into something new. Isn’t that awesome?! I told Rachel that my only regret about this Tuesday class was missing Bible study, but God still gave me an awesome lesson about Himself through Tena and the clay. Praise God!
Tena demonstrated everything for us first, and made a beautiful bowl in no time. She made it look so easy. Then we got to do it ourselves. It wasn’t that easy, but it was so much fun! Now, to be honest, I was afraid I would discover that I didn’t enjoy getting the clay all over my hands, because as a child I hated getting dirty, but that was not the case. I loved the way it felt on my hands. By the end of the 6-week class, I bet the skin on my hands is going to look great!
If you watch a potter working on a wheel, they make it look like the clay just melts at the slightest touch of your hands, but you have to exert a lot of pressure on that clay. You don’t just use your hands, but your whole body. I mean, I can feel it in my muscles still, maybe I should go take a Motrin… Now, I messed up right away, because I didn’t throw my clay on the wheel firmly enough, so when I went to start centering it, it went flying off the wheel (don’t worry, no teachers were harmed during the production of this vessel.) I ended up having to start over 3 times, but the fourth time was the charm, and I was amazed at the pretty bowl that turned out. (Tena says that for beginners’, you don’t decide what you’re going to make ahead of time, you just take what the clay gives you.) I’m so sorry to not have a picture to show you, but I left my camera at home. I’ll take pictures next week and show you. I then did a second piece all by myself! Well, under Tena’s close supervision anyway. I was rather proud of my very first 2 pieces! My 2 classmates only made one piece, but they came together and were having fun chit-chatting while I was in the zone.
In the end, I had 2 lovely bowls of different shapes and sizes (I’m assuming we’ll do the finishing work on them next week), my jeans and shirt covered in clay (they tell you to wear clothes you don’t mind getting muddy), and a huge smile on my face. I loved having Tena as a teacher, and it was fun getting to know the 2 older ladies who were in the class with me. They were a hoot! I have always been told that I am creative and artistic, but I haven’t found an outlet for that creativity that I have enjoyed as much as I enjoyed this today. Thank you, Rachel, for this wonderful prize. And thank you, Tena, for donating these classes to her giveaway.