People first started making pottery in 14,000 BC in East Asia - China and Japan. Essential tools were made for food preparation, preserving and fermenting food like fish and storing grains. As centuries went by, pottery progressed from household items to include works of art.
Yegana Jafarova began making pottery over 10 years ago in Kansas City. What started as one evening class, progressed to a few classes a week. Due to her love of working with clay, this led her to commence teaching and now she has Silky Shapes Studio.
I was invited to the studio to try a class. I had never done pottery before and was keen to try it. I only had time for one class. Yegana reassured me that all classes can be modified so you can experience all the elements involved.
Yegana very patiently explained and showed us the steps involved. It's important to use your hands a certain way to pull and lift the mass up (called throwing) and compress the shape downwards to create a strong base.
Adding water keeps the clay moist. Yegana shows us how to position our elbows and what parts of the hands we can use to apply pressure. It's quite a physical process, as the clay can feel quite firm. I almost expected just one soft mushy mess but the centrifugal force moulds the vessel evenly.
The next step on the wheel is smoothing out the rims of our cups or bowls with a sponge. Then you remove your piece by using a wire to scrap it off. The next stage would be firing but as I was only doing one class, Yegana had some fired pieces I could use to do my own designs on.
Yegana has a selection of stencils and pencils for students to use so you can easily create lovely patterns or draw your own design. The stencils are great and so easy to use, just cut the piece out wrap it around the shape, paint some water over it and voila, it's printed. Your shape will then be glazed to a nice shiny finish.
Working with clay is a sensory experience. Feeling the silky textures, the wet coolness and how heavy the clay initially feels. The whole process is very calming as you feel totally engaged in what you are doing.
I personally found it very relaxing. I had fleeting thoughts of the movie Ghost where Patrick Swayze came up behind Demi Moore. I did try channelling him to help me with my creation but with no success. At one stage, I felt I was doing well for a first timer, then I lost my concentration making a wobbly mess. The beauty of using clay is that you can easily start again - it is very forgiving.
Below are some of Yegana's own collection which can give you some idea of the scope of what you could eventually do.
Of course, pottery is also the ideal activity for children. It is a unique medium for expression. Highly responsive to touch but also flexible to change. Children would enjoy the different textural feeling but also a sense of achievement making their own shapes. The finishing process of firing, glazing and applying colours and design is also very satisfying and an important creative element. The fact that the clay is so forgiving allows for mistakes to be easily corrected which in effect increases a child's confidence and a sense of control over what they are creating.
Silky Shapes Studio is offering wheel throwing classes, where students will learn the basics of pottery. There are day and evening classes to choose from.
For a beginner: it is recommended to start with a 3 class beginners course. This course is designed to teach how to throw a basic cylinder on the wheel in the first class, turn and trim your pieces in the second class, and glaze them in the third class. One week waiting period is necessary between these first three classes to allow the clay to dry, and get fired twice before students can take home and enjoy their own pottery.
After this initial course, you can start taking 8 class courses and you are free to schedule your classes as often or as seldom as you like. There will be demonstrations and continuous instructions during all classes.
One Session only: A single modified version where several sessions are combined into one class. Ideal for those seeking ideas for team building, hen parties, birthday parties, etc. In this one session, students can choose to work with clay and leave their creation for the studio to glaze then collect a couple of weeks later. If you can't return, you can take advantage of the pre-made pieces of pottery, which can personalised in your own design and taken home.
If you are looking for fun activities for your date nights, girls night out, time to reconnect with your friends and family or have fun making new friends, you should give this a try. There are gift vouchers for the upcoming holiday season as well. Go to the website for more information.
I thoroughly enjoyed my pottery class and can understand how people become a little addicted to playing with clay. Why not give it a go yourself or buy a gift voucher for someone's birthday or as a Christmas gift.