Of Pottery Classes and Misguided First Impressions

I started something new… a pottery class! It would be predictable for me to say my first class was amazing…

Look at the smile on my face! I was pretty excited and proud of myself.

It was clearly amazing, but let’s back up to the beginning. I get to class in a rush because I’m sure I’m late. To my relief, I’m right on time.

“You’re here for the pottery class?”

“Yeah!”

“Karibu, have a seat. Have you done this before or is this your first time?”

“It’s my first time. I’ve never done this.”

Soon as I sit, another student walks in. Like it’s routine, the instructor asks the same questions. I’m happy to know that I am not the only one who has never attempted pottery. The class starts.

“We’ll start with the basics. Today we’ll use a pinch and roll technique. I will be here to monitor you and guide you through the process,” the teacher announces.

Now I’m swelling with eagerness because of the free-natured direction the class is taking.

“So we can start by…”

“I want to make something specific,” a loud voice interrupts. I look over at the other student. “I want to make a tiny cute pot with a lid, so I can put tiny things in it, like my keys.”

The teacher calmly replies, “it’s okay. We’ll get there.”

“Yeah. I want it to be a nice little bowl and it should have a lid.”

I’m thinking, “Seriously? This is your 1st class. You can’t make demands! Relax!” You should have heard how she said it. She sounded eager and at the same time unrelenting in her demand.

“Forget it Stacey. You do you!”

As we pinch and roll the clay, I’m happy to realize that I had probably done this before… that one time in primary school. I think we used plasticine though! Anyway, as we keep going, she becomes even more vocal, voicing her concerns about what she thinks she’s doing wrong, questioning whether her end result will really look like what she already envisioned.

I am dying to tell her to enjoy the learning process, even if it involves making mistakes. At the back of my mind I’m thinking, “No way will the instructor let her have her way! He already had a syllabus of some sort to follow.”

As I happily went on with my coiled pot, I realized something: The instructor DID let her have way, only he fit her request within his class. He happily guided her through everything.

It was at this point that I realised a few things:

1. You do not have to conform to what you believe is the “ultimate requirement”. Ask questions if you have them. If you have a vision, voice it, because you might be surprised to find other people will help you actualize your expectations.

2. I need to get rid of the chauvinistic perceptions I have picked up along the way. When I first heard this student I thought, “Why is she so bossy?” No one ever says a man is bossy, and if someone does, there probably isn’t any negative connotation attached to it. Truth is, she wasn’t bossy. Eager to learn and progress faster, yes… and there’s nothing wrong with that.

When I actually stepped back to have a conversation with her, I realized she was actually a great person. I liked her!

Anyway, here are more pics from my first pottery class. I cannot wait for the next class! Clay work is super therapeutic.

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