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SHWI gets potty

Following the success of the Great Pottery Throw Down and, for those older members, the memory of Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore in Ghost, it was with much trepidation that a group of our ladies met at The Art House in Sheffield on Sunday morning. 

Situated in the centre of town and next door to the first home of SHWI at St Matts on Carver Street, The Art House is a beautiful contemporary space where various craft classes are offered, as well as exhibition space and The Art House cafe. It also participates in the Pending Coffee scheme, providing free hot drinks for the homeless/vulnerable in Sheffield.

We all gathered in the cafe, bemoaning the early (10am) start on a Sunday, but bubbling with excitement and enthusiasm for the 2 hours ahead. We are greeted by Sarah who was to lead our session with a demonstration assisted by the lovely Claire. We moved upstairs to the airy, bright studio where we were given the obligatory health and safety talk; hair tied back, jewellery removed and a reminder that pottery is messy so it was recommended to roll our sleeves up and enjoy!

Following Sarah’s informative and easy demonstration, we were all let loose to gather the required equipment – bag a wheel, a stool and get potting! What followed was great fun, very dirty with clay water spraying all over the place, a bit rude as we coaxed our clay into a variety of phallic shapes before pressing down to make the openings to our bowls; disasters aplenty as the wheels were spun too quickly, hands were not in the right place and the clay did not behave; our saviours Sarah and Claire were on hand to avert genuine disasters.

Each of our ladies succeeded in making 2 items for firing in the kiln; the majority of us making bowls or small trinket plates, Sam made what can only be described as a beehive and Alice made a chalice – unintentional rhyming there! Liz, having found her groove at the wheel, managed to squeeze in a 3rd item which was a genuine accident that she tried to pull back from the brink of disaster, she was left with a beautiful item with folded in pieces of clay which will look amazing once fired with her colour choice. 

We moved all our makes onto ceramic tiles, chose the colours for firing and have to leave our makes for 2 weeks for the next step to be completed. I think it involves baking the makes and dipping them in glaze, I’m not sure if there is anything else that contributes to the magic of colouring them in! Sam kindly offered to pick up the box of makes after 2 weeks and bring them to the next meeting, so watch out for ladies toting around amazing homemade pieces at the next meeting, I am personally looking forward to seeing Alice drinking from her vessel.

Much thanks must go to Carolyne for organising. A number of us are considering going back for more time behind the wheel – it is surprisingly therapeutic to get so dirty! Thanks also to Sarah and Claire for your patience and advice, it was a great start to a Sunday and absolutely recommend to all those other members who said that they wanted to try it out. You never know we might have a SHWI dinner service by the end of the year! Rachel White Committee Member


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