After a 10-year hiatus, I am back in the pottery studio. It is an absolute gift to reconnect with my craft, and with all the work I’ve done to heighten my body awareness, I get to discover anew how to dance with the clay.
Centering on the wheel is a real challenge: It requires steady effort, and in the past I caused myself serious wrist and forearm injuries by working at it inefficiently, with too much exertion. Now I am thinking about the tiny bones in my hands and wrists and arms, the way force is transmitted, muscles and ligaments and the energy of fluid. I look for all the different ways I can relate to the clay, find balance and support in myself, and above all ENJOY the sensation!
As I explore this process with fresh perspective, I find amusement in the metaphor: When first plunked down on the wheel, the lump of clay is uncentered. With a steady influence, I have to actually take the clay further off-center, asking it to move this way and that so that I can bring it back to coherence, to unified potential. And then it is ready to be opened and shaped into a vessel.
This Quaker song captures the message perfectly:
‘Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free
‘Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be
And when we find ourselves in the place just right
It will be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained
To bow and to bend we shall not be ashamed
To turn and to turn will be our delight
‘Til by turning, turning we come round right.