I first sat on the wheel five weeks ago, almost to the day. The fourteen of us, all a bit shy, all excited, had gathered round to watch an afternoon of demos. It’s been a long time since any of us were in school, but it felt something like that when we dragged our stools to the front of the room and called out what shape we wanted to see being made next. Tall beaker! Bellied jug! Pancheon!
The next day, at our own wheels, we started to make. The first time I made a run of six cylinders, all near enough in height and proportion to look like a family, I felt made up. There were many more times where the things I was trying to make felt stowed away behind a closed door, and I hadn’t worked hard enough or made enough mistakes yet to unlock it. Learning in this way has been intense and full of small triumphs and disappointments, even for those of us who have been throwing for years – I’m told that unlearning habits is sometimes harder than starting from scratch. But spurred on from humbling disappointments, the ground that’s been covered by everyone since we started here has been unreal. There’s a sense of community and a sharing of knowledge that makes you feel safe in making mistakes, and in trying something new every day.
If the first five weeks is anything to go on, I think our time at Clay College is going to blow through us, imparting always slightly more than is possible to process in real time. With the rich cultural heritage surrounding us, the pooling of inspiration between course mates, the wealth of experience in the tutors, and the resources in the library and collection of pots, I feel our hands have their work cut out for them – playing a constant game of catch-up with the expansion of our minds.
Clay College Student