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Beginner Hands, Beginner Mind

Almost every adult I meet has played with clay at some point in their life, most likely in elementary school or even high school. Many people feel a connection to clay, even if they never progressed past the pinch pot stage when they were a child.

When I first started creating classes for Vallejo Clay Workshop in the fall of 2019, I wanted to keep the beginner in mind; the people who loved clay when they were a kid but may not have had a chance to play with it since. But the classes also had to be challenging enough to be interesting, perhaps bringing in the people who were more experienced. And there was also the fact that while I have 25 years of clay experience behind me at this point, almost all of that experience has been focused on wheel throwing. Hand building pottery with slabs, coils, and other non-wheel methods was not my practice. So I was a beginner myself.

Clay is made for the beginner. Even someone who is "not creative" or "isn't good at art" can learn enough skills in 10 minutes to make a functional pot. Most of the people who come to classes have almost no clay background, and they come to class with the beginner mind-- and beginner hands: open, willing to learn, willing to try, and also willing to fail and then try again. Putting ourselves in a beginner frame of mind reminds us that as human beings, we are born to learn. Being a beginner is not shameful, just part of the learning process. Moving through that process is challenging, and if we allow it, it can also be fun. Sign up for a class today and see how fun it can be!

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