Making Pottery for Wellbeing – a Personal View

I know from personal experience how doing pottery can help wellbeing and mindfulness.

I lost my beloved wife to cancer just before Xmas 2012.  And I found I became a sad person, went to work, came home and sat in my shed, played spider solitaire and probably drank too much.

In 2014 a flyer from Derbyshire Adult Education came through my letterbox advertising Pottery Classes at Lady Manners School, Bakewell.  So I joined the Tuesday and Wednesday classes and have not looked back since.

In November 2019 I went to a seminar held by Derbyshire Dales Council for Voluntary Service (DDCVS)  and was struck by the support on offer to organisations, like Bakewell Pottery, to help promote mental health and wellbeing and want Bakewell Pottery to join in.

“Is a set of evidence-based public mental health messages aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing of the whole population.”

The five ways are:-
……Be active
………Take notice

It was researched and developed by the New Economics Foundation and is supported by:

How doing pottery helps my wellbeing

“There is strong evidence that indicates that feeling close to, and valued by, other people is a fundamental human need and one that contributes to functioning well in the world.”

  • Getting out of my shed and connecting with others at pottery class has given me a mission to share with others my enjoyment and pleasure in making pots.
  • Studio pottery is not perfect – you just don’t know if a pot will be good or bad until it comes out of the final kiln firing. sharing the sense of achievement (or disappointment) with others is just so good.

“Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups.”

  • Right now (Dec 2019) I am *so* physically and mentally active getting the Studio up and running.
  • Pottery involves physical activity – eg moving around the studio, wedging clay and using the slab roller and extruder.
  • In addition, the fine hand control needed decorating and painting pots helps dexterity and suppleness in your hands.

Feeling GREAT

“Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances your well-being and savouring ‘the moment’ can help to reaffirm your life priorities.”

  • At every step in making a pot you have to pay attention to what you are doing.
  • Also, supervising the safe running of the studio and helping people make pots needs attention to each and everyone.

“Continued learning through life enhances self-esteem and encourages social interaction and a more active life.”

  • You can never tell if a pot will be good or not so good until it comes out of the kiln.
  • There are many different skill to practise and master.
  • Also there is the technical knowledge of clay properties, glaze chemistry, kiln loading and firing to learn and master.
  • I only started pottery in 2014 so I am still experimenting and learning how to make pots – and getting great joy from the process.

“Individuals who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy.”

  • I am getting a real thrill from giving my time and energy to set up the pottery as a resource for locals from Bakewell and the surrounding area.
  • I have already got so much in helping people at pottery evening classes since 2014.  I am so much looking forward to doing this in the Studio when it opens in 6 weeks or so.
  • Bakewell Pottery will be looking for volunteers to help the planned events and activities that the Pottery will be doing.
    – I hope you will be able to give some of your time to help realise the pottery as as community resource and share with me the joy/pleasure/satisfaction in helping the success of Bakewell Pottery .

Peter Cooper – December 2019