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Experts (1)
My connection to clay began in a pottery class in 1981. Of course, in the world’s sea of potters, I am simply a drop of experience. There are many others with in-depth technical experience, more clay and glaze mixing experience, and substantial firing experience. I have never had aspirations of being known for the pots I make, but having practiced throwing for over 35 years, I see myself as a skilled thrower. I know the commitment and rhythm needed to make a nice pot. Production potters aspire to fifty of the same mug in an hour for example. The rhythm of production is meditative, with the flowing repetition of the same hand movements combined with the same amount of pressure. It is a practice in seeing, feeling and intending. When I first opened my business I threw pots for survival. I was recently divorced with two babies, ages 2 and 4. Unable to afford childcare, I had to find a way to make a living from home. I always knew that someday I would be a potter... the time had come. Any apprehension about my skills was overshadowed by the responsibility of feeding two children. I made many inferior pots in the beginning, and I had to make a lot of acceptable ones to earn a living. Through that commitment (to feed my kids!) I put in the hours and acquired the skills I have today. Unlike other Potters or Artists, I don't have a degree. Primarily self-taught, I also learned from other potters, beginning with Mrs. Isobelle Karl at High Mowing School in Wilton, NH. Mrs. Karl always said “adults should teach themselves” and “it takes a lot of practice!” I lived by those words and remember her telling me to notice what worked and what didn’t. Body awareness was essential, and I learned to pay attention to the subtleties of pressure and placement of the body and hands. Outside of high school I only took one other pottery class, at Skidmore College. Suffice it to say, the teaching style was extremely different and I did not return to the ‘ceramics’ department again. I went on to work for two commercial potteries; the Kilnworks Pottery in St. Thomas, USVI, owned by Peggy Seiwert, and Pottery by Pankratz in Monument, Colorado. But as many potters will tell you, no one can really teach you to throw. You just have to do it - a lot. Like learning to play a musical instrument, or any other art form, after watching and trying other people’s techniques, you find your way into a style and rhythm all your own... with years of practice. In 1999 I opened my business, 'The Voice of Clay', as a production potter selling wholesale. I also started teaching both children and adult classes several times a week. While I was aware of clay’s impact my own energy, it wasn’t until I taught many classes that I realized the effect clay was consistently having on others. People always reported feeling more relaxed, grounded, and centered after a class. I became curious about the therapeutic qualities of clay, but not as in 'art therapy'. I wanted to understand what it was about this material that had such an impact on the body. I looked for a training on-line, what little there was back in 2007 or so, and a woman named Lauana Lei appeared. Her company, LL’s Magnetic Clay (now Enviromedica), was offering a training in clay bath therapy. I flew out to Arizona and was immersed in the healing power of clay - its negative ionic charge which can absorb and adsorb toxins (heavy metals and environmental toxins) from the body through the skin. At this training Lauana invited a biological dentist to speak about the benefits of clay, pre and post mercury amalgam removal. I had no idea what a mercury amalgam was, but soon discovered that I had nine in my mouth, and that mercury is the second most toxic thing on the planet! I returned from that training wanting to do two things - get the nine amalgams removed safely from my teeth and get my Esthetics license so I could immerse people in clay and provide clay body treatments. As a result, I worked for ten years in a spa doing just that - clay body treatments, clay baths, foot baths, and Dr. Hauschka facials. In 2010 my journey shifted. My brother Michael passed away due to complications with diabetes. It was unexpected. I made a conscious choice - to use the pain to further my evolution - enrolling in an MA program for Transpersonal Psychology through Atlantic University in Virginia Beach, VA. Alongside that education I went through a three year Somatic Breathwork training, so I was learning about altered states of consciousness and then having them! Throughout that four year period I transformed, specifically my emotional body. I discovered how to allow it to flow without letting it rule the roost. I learned enough to completely eradicate the high anxiety I was prone to inflicting on myself. I discovered how to energetically detoxify my system with the breath and with awareness of the mental and emotional bodies. Ultimately I discovered I was the clay, in relationship and co-creating with the “Master Potter” (call it what you will, God, Goddess, Yaweh, Universe, Nature, etc.). I saw the transformation of clay, based on the four elements: water, fire earth and air, as a living example of what we are being asked to ‘see’ in ourselves. Self-reflection and taking responsibility for ones body, thinking and emotions is powerful medicine!