The Happy Potter

THE Happy Potter – whether you’re looking for the ultimate creative gift or an original piece of British made ceramic, then look no further!

Helen Pottery Pic 800by600 with logo

WHAT can I say he did it again! I have to back-pedal a little bit here as this all started with Series 1 of The Great Pottery Throw Down. Totally hooked by the highs and lows of this brilliantly imagined TV series, which takes the viewer on a journey of discovery with several home potters as they engage in a series of unpredictable pottery challenges, it was addictive viewing!

It’s fair to say, with a background in design, when it comes to creative TV shows they tend to be priority viewing in our house. As I was drawn into The Throw Down, my committed weekly viewing and over animated Gogglebox-style commentary at the TV as it aired, didn’t go unnoticed. Little to my knowledge, this had sparked yet another brilliant gift idea in my husband’s mind and so on Christmas Day 2015, I received a printed piece of A4 paper and an email! Not quite the Jimmy Choo experience I’ve gauged every gift by ever since but this wasn’t just any piece of A4! To my surprise it detailed a two-day beginner’s pottery-throwing weekend booked in for April 2016. I have to say; much as I loved The Throw Down I wasn’t my usual animated self when I received this gift. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the idea but I hadn’t really pictured myself rolling up my sleeves and getting smothered in clay for anything other than an indulgent spa weekend! My brief experience of throwing at school was not one of my finest creative moments, so it’s fair to say I wasn’t skipping around the living room like an excited four-year-old at this one.

April came and went and with it the pottery experience moved back a couple of months due to other commitments and a double booking in June lead to another rescheduling for November. As the new date edged ever closer, I think my husband was more excited than I was at this point. Asking on a rather too frequent basis if I’d decided what I was going to make – a mug, a tea-pot, or maybe a serving bowl, or how about a plate? You had to admire the enthusiasm but at this point I highlighted my previous throwing experience, albeit one afternoon aged 14 and said at best he’d be lucky if I came home with an ashtray. As neither of us smoked he looked baffled! It’s fair to say my previous experience had left me a little jaded and somewhat anxious about the rapidly approaching experience. Would I really enjoy it, would I master the clay like a Jedi or would the perfectionist in me just end up incredibly frustrated, throwing the towel in, in the first hour? We were about to find out . .

The weekend arrived and it was an early start for me as I had to get to the other side of London for 10am. Did I say I’m not a morning person, especially on a weekend! But there’s nothing quite like a strong cup of coffee to get me up and running. So with caffeine levels at my norm I made my way across London, to Stepney City Farm in East London, for my Beginners Pottery Experience. I arrived at the venue where I was greeted by my tutor for the weekend, the lovely Jess Jos and I instantly felt at ease. Within minutes I had my second coffee of the day in hand as my fellow seven potters for the weekend also arrived and we exchanged polite introductions. Then it was time! This was finally it! It was now 10am and there was no going back. This was going to go one of two ways, I’d either; hate it and be out of there in an hour or I’d be hooked.

We started with a briefing from Jess on how the weekend would work; breaking everything down step by step before she set the wheel spinning and quickly and informatively demonstrated the perfect cylinder. The Holy Grail for any novice thrower. Oh how easy it looks! She repeated the process a couple more times, fielding questions from the anxious novices and then it was our turn. (Pardon the pun, pottery humour!) We selected our individual wheels and prepared our clay and then the throwing began under the watchful eye of Jess. With brilliant guidance I made it through the first hour and I could feel the bug taking hold. I was already hooked! One hour in and OK, my cylinders were the height of dipping bowls (ashtrays are so 80’s!) but I was ‘loving it!’ He’d done it again. My husband had nailed yet another gift! The weekend continued in a similar vein and by lunchtime on Day 2 I’d already signed up for my next course with Jess. If you want to learn to throw then look no further.  A truly British pottery experience and I cannot recommend her enough. Whether you’re looking for a new creative outlet or for an alternative gift for the creative person in your life then this is it. Simply book online at Jessjos.com

And it didn’t stop there! Thanks to Jess (did I mention she’s an amazing teacher, and potter!) I was totally hooked, so much so I decided to look for more regular access to a wheel and so after a little searching on Google, I found the perfect solution. An open access studio in Peckham Rye, appropriately named The Kiln Rooms. I sent an enquiry via the website and within a few hours I not only had a detailed reply from co-founder Ben Copper, but I was now signed up for my first month. That kicked off at the beginning of March with a very welcoming induction from co-founder and Studio Director, Stuart Carey (I should point out that Stuart is also a very accomplished British potter) and as they say, the rest is history and I haven’t looked back since. My membership gives me access to just about everything I’d ever need in a pottery studio, think of it as pottery heaven. So, not surprisingly, that one-month has now become a monthly rolling contract and my pottery journey continues in all its glory. And great news for any novice potters or anyone looking for the ultimate creative gift, the The Kiln Rooms also offers courses, which can be booked at thekilnrooms.com

And if throwing’s not your thing and you’re looking for an original great British Product, then pop along to Stepney City Farm on a Saturday to pick up an original piece of beautiful Jess Joss pottery Or one for your diary, take a visit to The Kiln Room Summer Show on June 2-4 in Peckham Rye to pick up a piece or two of truly original, handmade pottery from a London based designer. Full details on the event can be found at thekilnrooms.com

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