Have More Fun: Pottery

Create a Bowl, Mug, or Vase by Hand

By: McLean Robbins

For some, the lure of pottery is in shaping a piece of earth in their hands. For others, it’s the idea that they can make a one-of-a-kind functional or decorative object each time they sit at a potter’s wheel. Sometimes it’s simply a good way to pound out stress.

“It’s a physical and mental experience,” says Nicki Jacobs, who works at the National Endowment for the Arts. She began taking classes at DC’s Hinckley Pottery in 1988. “You can create something that’s beautiful, but if you want to wreck it afterward, that’s okay.”

Classes at Hinckley Pottery (1707 Kal­orama Rd., NW; 202-745-7055; hinckleypottery.com) teach the throwing technique—creating work on a wheel. Students purchase a ten-week session ($300 inclusive) and can join in at any time.

If you’re not sure you’re ready for a full-length course, the Art League (Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria; 703-683-2323; theartleague.org) offers a quarterly “Jump-Start in Ceramics” class for $35. It’s 2½ hours of hand-building—a technique of creating work without a wheel—including supplies. Regular throwing and hand-building sessions are $225 for nine weeks.

“The best part about pottery is that at the beginning, you don’t need a lot of artistic talent to become proficient,” says Amanda Pellerin, a teacher at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts (801 Chase St., Annapolis; 410-263-5544; mdhallarts.org) , where a ten-week class costs $225 (including membership but not $30 materials). “The artistic part doesn’t have to come till later.”

By the end of a single class, students can make mugs, bowls, and other simple forms. It often takes several sessions to complete larger or more complex pieces.

Other venues include Glen Echo Pottery (7300 MacArthur Blvd.; 301-229-5585; glenechopottery.com) , where you can learn throwing and hand-building ($180, not including clay, firing, and tool fees) and the Corcoran College of Art & Design’s continuing-education program (500 17th St., NW; 202-639-1814; corcoran.edu/ce). Beginner to advanced options in both throwing and hand-building are offered; the cost is $645 (plus $55 lab fee) for 14 weeks. Smaller workshops ($215 plus $30) this fall: majolica glaze painting and hand-building the human figure.