Pottery got cool: BALANCE visits Turning Earth
Writing a guide to pottery after a single class is like talking about that time you went swimming, when you really only put on your Speedos. I’m used to talking about things I hardly know (it’s my stock-in-trade), but for this guide, I’m even more ignorant than usual.
There are various stages to the pottery process: pinching; throwing; trimming; slabbing; firing; glazing; and more firing. My first two-and-a-half hour session on a four-week taster course at Turning Earth, Lea Valley, was spent pinching and trying to master rudimentary pottery techniques, using clumsy fingers and thumbs to shape wet clay.
There’s something special about this place; the smell of clay, coffee and concentration permeates the open plan studio housing professionals, and beginners, all huddled around long benches and wheels.
Our teacher Tessa tells us, “a potter’s tools are their hands”, and says the clay used in this prehistoric craft, recently deemed an art form, is ultimately dust mixed with water. It might sound pretty straightforward, but it’s not; it’s easy to overwork clay, dry it out, or get it too thin or thick. I made every error possible, but ended up with a decent pot made with my own bare hands.
Beginner courses last between four, eight and 12 weeks long, and the longer the course, the more time you get on each stage. Prices range from £95 for the four-week taster to £285 for 12 weeks. But once you’ve spent any time down here, you’ll definitely want more.
Pottery taster session
Turning Earth Hoxton