When I was a little girl, my grandmother had a studio in a small outbuilding in my grandparents’ backyard. I’m sure previous occupants used it as a garden shed, but it was grandma’s pottery studio, complete with kiln, wheel, and a ton of clay. I walked into my first pottery class at the Potters’ Guild, and that smell of the clay swiftly took me back to that little studio.
At our first class, we learned the steps in throwing a bowl. Center. Enter. Open. Throw. Shape. Growing up watching my grandma throw pots, I didn’t realize there were steps. I just thought there was magic.
As I attempted to form the semblance of three bowls, I was reminded of a very simple fact: my grandmother had incredibly strong hands. She was not a tall woman, and she had the most delicate looking hands, hands that belied their strength. As a prolific bread maker and potter, my grandmother had hands that could knead twenty pounds of clay or an entire loaf of cinnamon rolls with ease, and any conversation with her usually included one of her hands gently gripping your arm. But don’t be fooled; she could pull you into a hug faster than anything.
In the picture, you see my bowl attempt #1 (top middle), attempt #2 (right), and attempt #3 (left). The thickness (or thinness, which is the goal) is from drawing clay up between your thumb and middle finger. Let’s just say that my left hand fingers have never had such a workout before.
I was filled with memories of my grandmother the whole drive home after class. looking at my hands on the steering wheel that seem so clumsy and oafish compared to what those mothering, delicate hands could create. I’m enjoying walking in her footsteps in even a small way. I’ll have to attempt the cinnamon rolls next.