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Pottery, shaping form out of clay, starts with the simplest of pinch pots creating a small rounded vessel with the thumb pressed into a ball of clay. More complex pots emerge from the ancient craft of spiraling and joining coils of clay to form classic bowls or gourds to hold water or food evidenced in archaeological shards as being formed at the dawn of human history and still today as functional pots in Africa and elsewhere. The technique of throwing, shaping with the hands a mound of clay on a moving wheel powered by foot or electricity, to create sophisticated pots both functional and for beauty’s sake, is the discipline at the heart of Studio Pottery London.
Whilst we encourage hand-building as another facet of ceramic art, the learning and practice of throwing holds a special place in our community of makers. Grounded in sound teaching and technique, our pupils and members explore the repertoire of pots made on the wheel. From a shapeless lump of clay rise cylinders and curvaceous bowls or vases with flared rims, mugs and jugs, plates and vessels just to delight. The associated arts of turning, attaching elements such as handles, creating lids and spouts, lead to the kiln and the magical transformations wrought through heat on clay. Porous frangible pieces become hard and through the surface fusion of liquid glass in the form of glazes, ceramic vessels and objects emerge able to contain liquids, to function in the home, or adorn an environment as a self-sufficient artwork.
The pleasure for the amateur of making the humblest mug to drink from is shared with the professional repeat thrower producing multiples of the same pots for sale. A pot is always rooted in function and contains its own beauty according to the skill and intention of the maker. As a three-dimensional object, a pot has presence and personality.
The beauty of a beginner working in clay is the assurance that something will result given patience, practice, and love for the art and craft of pottery.
Are you in London? Check out our open pottery classes.
More than ever since the pandemic has forced us all to reevaluate what is important in our daily lives as humans, pottery stands out for its groundedness, its tradition and history, its perennial invitation to the individual to reconnect with the gift of our hands. Making pots with our hands revives hidden or even lost talents and renews contact with wells of interior creativity.
The enforced isolation of lockdown, with the mental and physical stresses which has accompanied it, and the often imposed work from home online, gives the outlet of working in clay an added attraction.
How better to escape the demands of online technology than to switch off one part of the brain and turn towards another creative side of our being?
Physical stress as well as mental tensions are soothed and rechannelled in the practice of pottery: to make a pot one has to set aside all stresses and lose oneself in the almost contemplative act of making in the present moment.
As we emerge battered from the pandemic, pottery can be a means of recovery, of escape, of reconfiguration, of alchemy transforming negativity into the quiet beauty of a well-crafted and realized ceramic vessel. Therapy and practical creativity combined.
The very art of pottery requires a mental reset as it were, a shift of gear, a step away from stress and tension into a practice which in itself invites and teaches an almost contemplative communion between matter, the clay, and the mind, heart, spirit of the maker. A beginner is taught by a good teacher to release tensions within their body as they learn sound techniques at the wheel and beyond. Attention to matter is paramount: learning to feel the clay, wedge it to prepare it for use, to coax shape and form out of clay using the tools of hand and wheel, or other shaping devices. The apprentice potter learns to love the medium and respect the pace of pottery: to learn to become a potter requires patience, good humour, and practice. No quick fix. Everything is slowed down, every step has to be gradually mastered; there are no short cuts.
The focus of the maker working on the wheel allows for an escape into a different mindset. One forgets one’s woes and starts to enjoy the challenge of working with the healing medium of clay. Everyone who has experienced an inspiring pottery class or session of making can attest to the accompanying sense of well-being and satisfaction. The joy of finally achieving one’s first finished pot is in itself a therapeutic experience. The process of making in clay requires negative thoughts and emotions to be left behind or put aside; in fact the very act of making in clay also facilitates this therapeutic effect of shaping positives out negatives. From a shapeless piece of earth emerges through the alchemy of pottery in the physical engagement of the potter’s hands, a pot, a form with meaning and character. The pots become almost like children for the maker; they speak of attentive creative work attaining the satisfaction of the finished piece. People with depression referred to try their hand at pottery experience the healing aspects of this craft.
Those who are sad or in mourning can, with the help of an inspired teacher, regain inner peace through the practice of making in clay. Given the almost universal trauma caused by the pandemic, the healing therapeutic dimensions to pottery seem all the more precious and of value in these troubled times as a means to find inner equilibrium and meaning.
Summer is officially here, and with that, there are so many fun activities that will motivate you to get outside to stay in shape and strive for those post-quarantine fitness goals. But before you decide to get outside to enjoy some walking, yoga, swimming, or hiking, remember these best practice skincare habits to protect your skin from common skin concerns, such as, sunburns, chafing, and excessive dryness.
Here, board-certified Dermatologist, Dr. Bottiglione, shares some advice to help your skin stay healthy as you embark into the great outdoors.
When going outside, the sun is going to be your biggest culprit for damaging your skin. While the sun boosts benefits like vitamin D production, take notice when your skin is overexposed to the sun’s harmful rays as it becomes dangerous. When overexposed to direct sunlight, the skin is irritated, causing sunburns, dryness, and sensitivity that can increase the chances for wrinkles and skin cancer as we age.
Luckily, staying inside when it’s so pleasant outside is not the only skincare alternative to avoid the sun’s damaging rays. Here are a few simple tips to prep your skin before stepping outside.
Opt to protect your skin with a clinical-grade sunblocking lotion of 15 SPF or higher.
“Anytime you go outside, you need to apply sunscreen to your skin,” advises Dr. B. “Ensure you apply sunscreen to the full body and reapply often. In the morning, after cleansing your face, is the best time to apply.” He recommends a spray for oily skin, or the Dermatologist’s Choice Sunscreen Enhanced Moisturizer for dry to combination skin types that needs a little extra hydration.
The key is the more intentional you are about proactively protecting your summer skin, the healthier it will be. It may sound simple, but your skin will be happier when you take a preventive approach rather than a reactive approach—for example, applying the sunscreen moisturizer before a walk to help to avoid the treatment of a sunburn after. When prepping your bag for the fun day ahead, make sure to add sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water.
Now the real excitement begins! However you decide to get your fitness outdoors, we have the skincare routine you need or a carefree and healthy day.
Deep breath. Like our favorite flow, these skincare tips will keep our mind—and our skin—at ease. If you take your yoga practice outdoors, wear an SPF shirt, and lay your mat under a nicely shaded tree to help shield you from excessive sun exposure.
“Avoiding direct sunlight and wearing protective clothing is smart to protect your skin from sun damage. Even if you are going for a relaxing walk or doing just a few sun salutations. Staying out of the direct sunlight will reduce your risk of sun damage and wrinkles.” - Dr. B
Swimming is one of the best cardio and strength training workouts, while also an enjoyable activity during the summer. Whether you are swimming in open water or laps in the pool, the excess amount of water with exposure to pool chemicals and environmental pollutants can cause skin irritation and dryness. To keep your skin hydrated and protected, Dr. B. recommends applying the Dermatologist’s Choice Pre-Bath Oil to your skin before entering the water. This will seal your skin’s protective barrier to avoid skin irritation from chemicals and debris. He adds, “The Pre-Bath Oil is what I give to all my patients with eczema or dry skin. It is the only thing that will protect and also deeply hydrate the skin.” Just apply this serum before you put on your sunscreen, and you're good to go!
With warm temperatures during the summer months, it’s the perfect time for hiking and exploring the mountainous outdoors. It is essential to take the necessary steps to avoid your skin becoming sunburnt, irritated, or breaking out. “Wearing a hat with a large brim that will shade your face and neck is key. A baseball cap is just not enough for the sun protection you need. After your hike, it is important to clean your face and pores of sweat, dirt, and toxins with Dermatologist’s Choice Glycolic Peel Cleansing Pads to avoid breakouts from occurring,” Dr. B. warns. Keep them in your bag for easy cleansing after a hike.
One of the biggest skin concerns cyclists or runners usually bring to dermatologists is chafing. Even if you’re just cruising along the seaside or taking a cycling class, those tight clothes and friction can cause some intense irritation and redness. “When you have an issue with chafing, you need to protect your skin. You need armor over the skin. Beeswax, for example, is thick to coat the skin and protect it. Another effective option is the hydrating Dermatologist’s Choice Pre-Bath Oil. For best results, moisturize your skin, and then add a piece of clothing to cover it (that is actually like armor),” Dr. B. shares. Are you a runner? Feel free to use this tip too before your next mile or 30.
At the end of your activity, the real results of that skin preparation set in. But sometimes, you need a little extra support afterwards. After any good workout, cleansing off the sweat, dirt, toxins, and irritant is paramount. Dermatologist Choice pH Balanced Cleanser helps to gently but effectively remove sweat, oil, and restore the skin’s natural pH levels.
Did you end up getting a sunburn, or is your skin dry from the elements? Soothe with the Pre-Bath Oil with natural oils like sunflower and jojoba oil for deep hydration and healing.
“Sun damage can manifest in multiple ways. Most often, you will notice a sunburn first, which can then lead to irritated skin—and over time, sun damage increases the appearance of wrinkles.” For safe measure, at night regenerate sun-damaged skin with Dermatologist's Choice Ultra Anti-Aging Cream with 15% non-neutralized glycolic acid to your skin. This powerful dermatology treatment rebuilds the collagen and exfoliates fine lines, sunspots, and acne on the skin. “Do not apply the Ultra Anti-Aging Cream on a sunburn or irritated skin,” Dr. B. shares. These are long-term habits to aid in maintaining your best skin health.
Capture your best skin with everything you need this summer with the Dermatologist’s Choice Skin Kit, and get 20% off your order with code MB20 at www.dermchoice.com.