Making Coil Pots At The Mansion

Around the table from left to right:Jean, Julie (the activities director), Alice, Winnie, Peggy and Jackie.

I brought some clay to The Mansion this afternoon and we made coil pots.

I believe one of the most natural things for humans to do with clay is roll it into “snakes”.  Coil pots are a basic pottery construction, it’s been around for thousands of years. And the people at the Mansion, who I was working with today, took to it naturally.

This kind of clay doesn’t need to be fired, it will air dry and then can be painted or left natural.

The people who chose to work with the clay seemed more engaged with it than the other classes I’ve taught.  I think it has something to do with the tactile nature of working with clay.  It’s very immediate and direct.  And it keeps your hands busy in a repetitive motion.

We passed the coil pots around, each person adding to it when they had a coil of clay ready.

At one point Alice started to work on one of the pots and I could see she was getting into it.  She was smoothing and shaping the clay in a very deliberate way.  There was a confidence in the way she was working that made me want to leave her alone so she could concentrate. She was enjoying herself.

So I let her continue and started another pot for everyone else to work on.

I’m not really sure how the pots will dry.  I’m hoping they stay intact, but I’ve never worked with clay like this before.  And I’m not all that sure that our construction was the tightest.    I was thinking more of working with the clay than the finished pieces.

Next time I’m thinking of bringing a couple of rolling pins and we’ll make some slab pieces.   I’ll even bring some tools so we can etch and emboss designs in the clay.

Today we made three  pots together and as I was leaving, the women were starting a forth.

The 3 pots we made today.  Alice’s pot is on the right.


4 thoughts on “Making Coil Pots At The Mansion

  1. I work with young children so this really resonated with me. One of the things I love about Play Doh is that you get all the joy of creating, without having to figure out what to do with it afterward.

    The way you talked about Alice’s working of the clay and how you adjusted the activity to accommodate her interest reminds me of the Reggio Emilia method used in some preschools. It was lovely to see that being used with people at the other end of life.

    1. I’m going to have to check out Reggio Emilia method Trish. I did enjoy working with the clay yesterday. I think it’s just so natural for us human to do.

  2. Oh this brought back such fond memories, in late 1997 I took my first pottery class and from the moment I touched the clay I was hooked, I stayed with it faithfully for 3 years. I have worked on and off over the years renting space in various studios. I discovered air dry clay recently which is nice since all the local studios where I could have something fired went out of business. Love the pots that were made.

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