Working with clay, for me is to be in touch with myself. It is the very taproot of life itself. Confronting clay has lead me to explore and live the earthy, intense and passionate side of me.
I am sharing with you five important lessons clay has taught me through these years:
Patience and Empathy
Clay has its own personality and characteristic that interests me. No matter how experienced and how good the clay might be, it does not necessarily respond to you at all times. It has thought me to approach the medium with utmost patience, understanding and empathy.
Paradoxes of Life
Clay work is full of paradoxes. It is one of the most technically challenging medium of art. Yet, it is used by children. It is simple and yet so complex at the same time. It is an ancient material made of earth yet it is also one of the modern materials of science. Clay is soft, wet and sensuous as well as a strong sturdy substance; resistant as well as pliable.
Keep at it- one can never see the results early
Clay can be moulded into any shape or form. But clay work may not be always easy. You never see the result immediately. The clay work goes through a series of processes before it finally can be called a finished product. Only after it has undergone a firing process does one see the end result. This aspect for me has been most challenging, exciting and mysterious. Just like many of the stages in life clay goes through many stages before it is finally ready.
Clay looks very different in every state. In the beginning it is soft and wet, waxy and cheese-like. When it is medium dry, it is chalky and very delicate. When the piece is fired it takes on a totally new look, very different from any of the previous stages. It has allowed me to accept these changes in the medium, and as an extension that I see in and around me.
Lessons in communication and relationships
When one chooses to work with clay there is always a period of communication between the maker and the medium. This communication mostly involves wishing and ‘telling’ the clay what you want it to look like and the clay talking back to you about what it can do for you in turn. It is an interaction with you and the capabilities of clay.
There are many ways to shape clay. It can be entirely built by hand or it can be thrown on the wheel. Wheel work can be very calming, sensuous, rhythmic as well as addictive. Both children and adults are drawn to these qualities. Clay allows you to do many things – functional things, decorative things, draw on it, carve on it, dig into it and make a complete mess of it, this is the beauty of working with clay. It allows you to be in your elements and help you develop a free relationship with it.
Clay by nature is in a perpetual state of rest. Yet, like all of us, in it lies great potential for interaction and life. Clay has never failed to nourish, calm and motivate me. In clay, as in life, people are not always expecting fantastic results at the end of it but art, many times, is found where one least expects it.
For me, working with clay has been an extension to exploring my emotions, my mind, coping with life and finding new beginnings.
– Blog post by Cynthia Suzan
Cynthia has been a potter, working with clay for over two decades. At Snehadhara’s pottery studio, Maati, Cynthia is a guest faculty exploring pottery as a medium with our children for expression, communication and relaxation.