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Therapeutic Throwing

Work has been particularly challenging recently. I’ve been running another equipment trial, the most complex to date, with more bits of kit and more subcontractors than I’ve ever done before. The weather was atrocious, and the roof of the portacabin I was using as a base started leaking – to the extent that I had to rope my customer in to help me place buckets to catch the drips! There was no respite when it was over, either – I’m already bidding to be involved in the next round of trials, and there’s a huge amount of very detailed planning to do.

So I was really pleased when I checked my diary to see that I’d had the foresight to book a session at Eastnor Pottery on Saturday. Throwing pots is a really good de-stressor, and I got through nearly two bags of clay yesterday throwing pot after pot. I turned a number of them into gravy boats – it’s quite satisfying to take a round pot and deliberately deform it into an oval jug. I’ll go back in a few months time to make and fix the handles on them.

I’ve been going to the pottery for over twenty years now, and have watched it develop and grow over the years. When I first started going there, it was largely an artisan pottery which did a few weekend courses on the side. Now they have several employees, plus a succession of apprentices, and offer a range of “pottery experiences” ranging from one hour “throw a single pot” sessions through to hen parties, corporate events, school and children’s sessions, as well as the weekend courses. The Pottery Throwdown programmes a few years back certainly stoked demand, and Jon (or more likely, his wife, Sarah) is an astute enough business person to capitalise on it.

They’ve expanded from just the original studio to add a marquee in the garden for large parties, have put a pottery wheel in the ante-room to the main studio, and most recently they’ve converted the adjacent old storage shed into another studio space (the “potting shed”). So now they can cater for up to four independent groups at a time. It’s perhaps less tranquil than it was twenty years ago, but it’s got the happy bustle of a thriving family-run business. Indeed, Jon and Sarah’s younger son was working there yesterday as a Saturday job. It was good to meet him at last, as I remember Jon taking paternity leave when he was born……