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Slow pots and missed magic

(spoiler, I'm cheating on my photography)


Last night I snuck out of the house just as it was getting dark, creeped out as all the chaos of the mundane evening rituals began - dinner and bath time and bedtime and 'just five more minutes of reading mummy'. I got into my car in the drizzle to make the 40 minute drive to a little slice of heaven somewhere near the sea in Dittisham.


The slice of heaven in question is the beautiful Coombe Farm Studios where I gathered with three other women under the watchful eye of our pottery tutor, Veron, as we sunk our hands into earth to try and create something beautiful at a potters wheel.


While I may visit this heavenly place each week (and Coombe really is heavenly in the most cabin -come farm -come art studio -all lit by festoon lights -kind of way) I do need to bring this post down to earth with a bump early on to inform you that in fact, I am truly terrible at pottery.


I am of course a complete amateur and (apart from a brief stint as part of Art A-Level) this is only my second term on a pottery course so I'm ok with being terrible at pottery for now, but it wasn't like that in the beginning. If I'm honest, it took me a little while to come to terms with my terribleness at this new found passion.


You see I had a sneaking suspicion I would be wonderful at making pots, a natural talent just waiting to find a studio! I'm embarrassed to admit, on that first drive to Dittisham I started thinking of names for my Etsy shop and by the time I'd reached the carpark, I'd made a mock up in my mind of the logo I'd have commissioned by a local illustrator for my pottery studio. Ha!


But like all the best things in life, the joy I knew I'd find in signing up for my course wasn't going to be found in me becoming the next Keith Bryner Jones overnight or sipping my tea from my beautiful handcrafted mug within a week. Not at all. The joy was going to be found in the long term work of learning and mastering a new craft.


The slow and steady repeating of making, a new piece of clay placed on the wheel, the steps my hands had to learn by heart as I centred the clay, the mastering of just the right pressure to apply on the foot peddle, waiting for the flimsy mud to turn leather hard, turning bottoms, firing, glazing, more firing. All these details taking time to master and work on and think you're nearly there only to fall down again.


And yet, even though I am now a self confessed 'terrible potter' - it still fills me with absolute glee going to class each week.


Sitting at the wheel last night, the first night back after the summer break, I was trying to push and mould the earth. Trying to create something beautiful out of lumps of dirt, fighting it to go up into the mug shape in my head instead of flopping out into the muddy heap it would rather be left in - how I felt in that moment was far better than launching that etsy shop.


I found moments of pure concentration that I've been struggling with in my photography recently. The strived for state of flow in my work. Creating something real with my hands, not something on a screen. Not to mention joy and laughter. Clay splatters over my face and clothes, remembering I was always the messiest artist at school! Pure and simple, back to basics, creative play. No agenda, no business strategy, no social media schedule. Just me and my hands making something.


As well as having the patience to get better at pottery, my class is just once a week for two and a half hours. That to me is torture!


I can't stay up late practicing everyday, no opportunity to obsess letting everything else fall by the wayside until I nail it and create pieces I'm proud of. Its so unlike when I started taking photography seriously back in 2016, when everyday was spent refining my editing, practicing taking photos of my children, learning how to build a website (god, I'm not sure how I managed to have a full time job at the same time!).


In my head I was hustling back then, but maybe I was just being impatient, rushing through the learning and missing an important part of the artistic process? Perhaps there's a chance that I lost some of the creative play somewhere in the mix, all those moments of missed magic that only a terrible amateur can find.


As I continue to work behind the scenes on evolving my photography business, I don't want to miss anymore magic. I want to take things slow and learn and play and find the joy in simply taking photos, just like my slow pots.


Creativity is the way in which I share my soul with the world and without it, I am not ok - Brené Brown


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