Pottery has many ways of calming the mind and giving you a moment to yourself, says Georges Chahwan. The glaze you use on your pots is made by mixing powdered clay with water, which is then cooked in a kiln. Once it’s finished cooking, if left uncovered, the glaze will absorb all the moisture the air has to offer and soon crack. When unloading these pieces from the kiln, if they are left out of their protective paper bags for too long before being placed into another bag or box, they can easily break due to stress fractures that have formed across the body of the piece. Watching this process unfold before your eyes reminds you of an ancient method of unifying life with death – something that is extremely fascinating! One must accept that this earthenware is made and designed to be broken and enjoyed as a memory.
In addition, there is an approach called “reduction” when firing pottery. Reduction simply means the allowance of oxygen in smaller amounts during the process to allow for a very slow-burning fire within the kiln itself. The oxygen is allowed in through vents at different stages throughout the process, which results in a deep red or even black glaze on top of the natural clay colors. This method teaches you to appreciate change within your work. Through learning about how reduction actually changes not only color but also texture, you’ll be able to be more open to new ideas and concepts when designing pieces.
Lastly, the way it’s been done for centuries brings you back down to earth when you are feeling ungrounded. Whether you’re throwing pots or hand-building them from coils, pottery is a reminder of how life is all about learning and progressing slowly through time with one step at a time, adds Georges Chahwan. It’s about working hard and doing your best; knowing that if you continue to put your energy into this craft, there will be a day when you’ll have your own set of tools and skills to pass on. It’s about patience and taking things one step at a time – like the roots of a tree that surface into the light after years underground! – all done through hard work, dedication, and endurance.