C2C Apps: 6 Lessons from a Potter’s Wheel

Sometimes life can be a real mess.

And that was just one of the lessons we all learned at this month’s Secret Adventure for Courageous Women.

This month’s experience sold out so fast that I decided to double up and try it twice.

So last weekend, on two different days, two groups of Courageous Women joined me for an afternoon of mysterious fun. I’d told them that what we were doing would be a bit of a physical challenge, but that really anyone could do it. And I told them to wear old clothes, because we were going to get a bit messy.

Most of them thought we were going caving. :)

Well, except for Debra – who thought we’d be cleaning out my basement. Now THAT would be an Adventure!

But in the end, I led them to Studio 212, a lovely creative space owned by Leeanne Moe, who is, it so happens, a master craftsman. 

In pottery. :)

And we spent the next two hours elbow deep in something that looked like melted chocolate ice cream.  With a few wobbles, we practiced shaping wet clay on a spinning wheel, forming what would be our very own first-ever handmade pots. And we tried not to spin too much of it on ourselves as well.

And through it all, there were lessons; important points that Leeanne made over and over – all with a smile – while we focused on guiding and creating the raw material we held in our hands.

Wendy, Judith and Raeus

It was a beautifully muddy and marvelous experience.

And anytime we step out to explore, there are lessons we could all take back home as well.

Here are a few that stood out to me.

1. Prepare the clay.

Working with clay is about creating something beautiful and useful out of something raw and basic. Before taking it to the wheel, you prepare the clay, with a thumping, rolling, mashing, pulling, kneading process potters call “wedging”.

Sometimes, when great changes are afoot in our lives, it can feel like we’re being thumped, rolled, mashed and pulled too. Yikes. But though we can’t always see it at the time, we, like the clay, are being prepared for great changes, big leaps, in the growth and form of our own life.

2. Anchor it to the wheel.          

This part was fun!

To start on the wheel, you throw a blob of clay down on the center with all the gusto you’ve got. I mean throw it down. THUMP. (I thought it helped to let out a good ‘Hiiiii-YA!” at the same time.) You want to anchor it securely before starting the work.

Making changes in our lives or work can make us a little wobbly too, so having an anchor is important. Perhaps we need an accountability partner, a coach, or a good friend who will help us stay on course. Perhaps we have a daily spiritual practice, or a mantra, that keeps us connected. We all need something that helps us hold on.

3. Find your center.

If the clay isn’t centered on the wheel, you’ll find yourself with a funny, hard-to-hold wiggly, wobbly, mess. Part of our practice involved learning how to hold the clay, shape it, and feel it shift as we gently guided it until it was en pointe, perfectly balanced.


Though most of us had at least one Clay Casualty as a beautiful piece of work suddenly lost form, flopped over and went spinning right off the wheel.

Whoops. :)

We’ve ALL had this happen in our own lives as well. If we are not centered in our souls, in our bodies, we too get off balance. Fall apart. Spin off in pieces. We too, have to take the time to find OUR center and return to it, often. Rest. Reconnect with what feeds us and guides us as we spin our way into the new Being we’re creating in ourselves.

4. Hold your hands still. 

SA#25 Leeanne's helping hands...

It sounds so easy. But it so isn’t.

Leeanne told us over and over: “Let your hands move the clay. Don’t let the clay move your hands.”

We, too, let circumstances, the opinions of others, misguided advice or unspoken (and unrealistic) expectations shape who WE are. What if we decided for ourselves who we wanted to be, what we wanted our lives to look like?

What if we held steady, and shaped the circumstances around us, instead?

5. Remember, water is your friend.

Dry clay won’t work. It has to be wet, muddy, messy, in order to be shaped and formed into something precious. We constantly dipped our hands into a bowl of cool, muddy water, throwing more onto the clay, keeping it lubricated, manageable, pliable.

What keeps us from becoming dried out, unable to create, unworkable? For me, it’s a walk in the woods, sitting in the grass, watching birds at my feeders, or just sitting in silence for a bit. For you, it might be a night at the theater, a game of checkers with your granddaughter, or a day in bed with a book.

Whatever it is, we need it. Often. And the faster the spinning is, the more we’re shaping and creating the lives that we want, the more important this is.

6. There is beauty (and art!) in imperfection.

Pottery is NOT about perfection. Anything but. We were thrilled to end up with anything that even remotely resembled a bowl, in fact.

But Leanne made a point. She said, “If you want perfection, buy something at Target. If you want something handmade, it’s going to be imperfect.”  And I would add, that’s art

I don’t want a perfect life.

In fact, I’m working hard on becoming an Imperfectionist. It’s not easy, trying to reverse a lifetime of habit, but I’m determined.

We’ll pick up our beautiful, handmade, pots soon, after they’ve been glazed and fired. And you wait. You’ll see.

Each one will be unique, and absolutely, imperfectly perfect, in it’s own beautiful way.

Just like every Courageous Woman I know

Wanna see some more pix? Click here!

Photo Credits – Wendy Pitts Reeves


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