I have always been blindly drawn to art; specifically 3-dimensional form. During school years I got involved in a great cross section of media, of which I found clay to be especially engaging. One regret I had was never getting on the wheel to try my hand at the holy grail of clay lovers.
In the last several years I have found the time and money to take a few college courses that included clay throwing. What a rush! Many styles, many techniques, many types of clay! Even just watching instructors go through the motions of creation feeds my budding love for this art form. One similarity I have found in all who master throwing clay is how simple and fluid their hand movements look. Seemingly easy - Therein lies the deception!
As I worked my way through the learning process, I discovered just how much hand-eye coordination, manual steadiness and precise movement it required. The secret behind a solid clay creation is to ‘ground’ your center. Clay throwers will understand, but to those yet to discover this heaven and hell art form; your seated position, knees, elbows and hands all connect in a particular way to form a secure single body position you can rest into and operate precisely from (it’s actually easier than it sounds). Practice and patience brings forth success. And somewhere in the mix I learned that the act itself created an opening to relax and empty my mind which in turn, aided greatly in the success of the final product!
Over time I began to experience muscle fatigue as my time at the wheel lengthened. In order to hold the grounding position while throwing and to ultimately create successful forms, muscles needed to be engaged and held firmly in place. I found that the more I stepped up my (very moderate) weight training, the better and longer I performed. The weight training also needed to include my fingers and hands. Thank God I have free weights for my fingers, too!! The strength of each individual finger, or lack thereof, distinctly showed in my work. The right tools for the right job! My ‘connected’ tools - my entire body - deserves the best I can do for it every day. Healthy body, happy life!
Written By: Felicia Pocius