Is Pottery the Right Hobby to Give?
Is it a good idea for children? How about for teens and adults?
Of course if you ask potters, they'll of course give a resounding "Yes!" to all of the above. The truth is, however, that clay is not a hobby for everyone. People either love clay, or hate it. Which means, don't go overboard when considering giving a gift of pottery as a hobby.
First, seriously think about the person's outlook on dirt and mess. People who avoid mess at all costs are most likely not going to enjoy pottery as a hobby. On the other hand, a lot of people with highly organized and demanding jobs come to greatly enjoy the freedom to "play in the mud."
If you think your recipient will enjoy clay, it is time to think about the best way to introduce them to it.
Why Give Potting as a Hobby?
Pottery is one hobby that is practically never-ending in its possibilities. It uses both our creative and problem-solving sides. It can also be a a meditative process, as well as fulfilling our need to make something useful with our own hands.
- The artistic will love clay for its sculptural and two-dimensional surface aspects.
- Do you know a budding scientist / alchemist? Pottery is based in inorganic chemistry, physics, and geology.
- Do you have an up-and-coming anthropologist or archeologist? Pottery can appeal to them as it brings this ancient craft to life for them.
- Do you know anyone in a demanding job? Many of these folk love potting for the relaxation and release it provides from the rigors of their jobs.
Avoid Frustrating Pitfalls
I strongly suggest you avoid those "pottery wheel" kits. Nearly every non-potter thinks of these as being able to be used to throw clay, which simply isn't the case. The reality is, they are only useful as a tool with hand building techniques, not throwing.
You may want to start off with a gift of a few pounds of air-dry or oven-cured clay, along with some inexpensive modeling tools. These types of clays can be used with pinch, coiling, and slab techniques, then painted with acrylic or enamel paints (not glazes). These items will not be food safe, however.
Don't give real clay unless you have located a place (potters, art centers, etc.) where your recipient can have their pieces fired.
How to Give Potting as a Hobby
Pottery is both easy and very complicated. It is easy in that the clay molds itself to our will without too much trouble...at least at first. However, many beginners are not ready for the more technical issues and process that crop up, including how to fire clay and dealing with glazes (and getting the right glaze for the clay being used).
Because of this, I suggest that to give the best experience with clay as possible to your recipient, you find a pottery class for them.
Many potters will give mentor or lessons if they are asked, and some offer scheduled classes. Also check with your area's art and community centers. Many of these also offer pottery classes. If your recipient is an adult, you might give them a pottery class at a college.