Pottery life lessons

Every Saturday, every other Sunday and one Saturday night a month I teach a pottery workshop at that is meant predominantly for beginners. I mean, absolutely, 100% never touched clay before beginners. o

As I go around helping everyone out I find I keep spouting the same pieces of advice that sound like they could double for life lessons.

So without seeming like a horrible inspirational meme that you see on Facebook, I thought I’d share a couple and perhaps they will help you out with either a pottery problem or a life problem.

“They have a saying in sports, speed kills”

I typically tell this to someone who is going either way to fast with their wheel speed or too fast with their hands. Either way, I end up telling them to “slow the fuck down” and then add in that speed kills.

Its a pretty self explanatory idea, going to fast amplify mistakes. The faster you go, the more perfect and precise you must be, which many people are not.

Taking things slowly, often leads to more success.


The wheel forces you to be patient”

Usually the students who habitually go fast are the least patient people. I’ll ask what they do and almost always get a high stress, fast paced job as an answer. Its then that I drop this little nugget.

I’ve discussed this in the past in one of my very first blogs, but it can always be repeated, you need to respect the process and be patient with it. Nothing happens instantaneously and there is always several steps that must be taken.

“Be more assertive with the power hand”

That being said, I also find people on the other end of spectrum who are way to passive. They touch the clay as if they are afraid to break it. This is no good either. You need to have some assertiveness, some force.

You can’t let the clay boss you around, you need to tell it what to do. One could apply that with their life or people perhaps.

“Its not about power or aggression, its about control and stillness”

Another beginner mistake is using too much muscle. A lot of people try to force the clay to do things. In reality the best bet is controlling your actions and then you see it reflected in the clay.

By staying calm and keeping control of what you are doing you can recover much better from many mistakes than trying to “fix it.” Keeping your hands still and letting the clay flow through them will fix or minimize most off centered pieces, wonky rims or buckled walls.


“Its only clay, smoosh it down and start again”

Sometimes though, you can’t fix something. That’s when I tell students not to be emotionally attached, smash their work down on the wedging table and start fresh. After all, its only clay.

Now, I wouldn’t say this is a fix for all problems, but I would say this is a good one for those who are perfectionists or can’t let things go.


So there you have some life/pottery lessons. Hope it helped you one way or the other. I’ll be picking back up technique and practical throwing advice next week.

Till then, get into the studio and make something!

Questions on the technique, email me at, like what I’m doing feel free to shop my Etsy store


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