On Saturday I was lucky enough to take part in the Craft Council’s free Hey Clay! pottery weekend which ran from the 7th-9th April 2017. A quick check of the Hey Clay! event page told me that the nearest venue to us was just down the road at Pots2Paint in Viables Craft Centre, Basingstoke where we could try making a pinch pot.
The lovely owner Stephany Cox gave us a warm greeting and set us up on the bench outside. It was a beautiful, warm day and as we sat in the sunshine, she demonstrated how to slap the lump of clay with our palms until we had formed a rough ball shape. Then she pushed her thumb into the centre and within seconds had created a perfect miniature heart-shaped bowl. She gave us some tools, and buttons to press into our bowls, and a lump of clay.
It was time to begin.
There is something joyful about taking a lump of clay and starting to manipulate it to your own design. I very quickly decided that I wanted to try making a yarn bowl. It was so tempting to roll the clay into a ball but Stephany had advised us to minimise the contact with our hands so as not to dry out the clay too quickly.
As pressed my thumb into the clay and started pressing out the walls of the pot with my fingers, my rings left an impression in the clay which gave me an idea for the final decoration, but trying to keep the thickness of the walls as even as possible wasn’t as easy as it looked.
Hey Clay! – Problem Solving
The blazing sun was drying out the clay quickly so I had to keep stopping, smoothing the cracks and pinching some more. We’d been left some water to help with this. My youngest found it a little frustating but I love how being creative throws up problems that forces you to puzzle solve.
Once I’d got my bowl to the size and shape I wanted (albeit a slightly imperfect one), I took off my ring and began pressing it into the clay. I’d intended to just do a single line around the centre, and create a pattern like a One Ring from Tolkien, but I got a *little* carried away and soon there were impressions all over the clay.
More problem solving was required when I’d tried to cut the slot for my yarn to feed into the bowl. Originally I’d intended to cut a spiral but the clay was a little too soft. The design began to collapse. I decided to leave just the centre part, so it could still function as a yarn bowl. You can see from the photo where the join is. I like how the finished piece will carry the scars of its creation.
Hey Clay! The Finished Design
My finished design was a little wobbly and imperfect but that is what makes it an original. The brilliant thing about handmaking things, whether it be from crochet or clay is that you get something that is unique to you. There won’t be another yarn bowl in the world like this one. I know that every time I look at it, it will remind me of that day, and taking part in Hey Clay! Hopefully, if the kiln gods are kind, I can go back and glaze it. I’m already thinking about what colours I’d like it to be, so I’m really hoping it survives the firing!
Stephany runs lots of courses at Pots2Paint, everything from children’s parties to ceramic painting. If you would rather she does the work for you, you can also commission her to make a piece. Or visit her shop to buy a ready made yarn bowl. Check out her Facebook page or website for all the latest information.