“Clay has a memory”

clay pottery

Pam has been having creative adventures recently and has sent in another lovely post this week, about memories. She’s been doing pottery, and tells us about how clay holds the memory of what the potter has done with it in its molecules. If you change your mind and start again, making something different, you have to work hard to realign the particles within the clay, so that you can successfully create a different shape. Pam sees this as similar to us and our memories – what a great metaphor.

I stepped out of my comfort zone and went to a pottery group the other week which I have not done for 20 years. I wheeled two sort of wobbly pots but I did it. Now what I wanted to rave on about was the new lesson for me: as I sat on the wheel I remembered about clay – it has a memory. It’s not so much brought about by time, it’s due to the use of it. If you start throwing one thing, say a pot, and then change your mind and want to make a vase, then you can do this, but the clay won’t stand up to the work so well, and the result will probably be weaker and more likely to collapse on the wheel: it starts to wear down and you just can’t wheel with it as it has lost its strength. At this stage you need to put a lot of work into the clay to bring it back and to get rid of the old memory. With clay it is kneading and lots of it that makes the difference and gets rid of the memory (see picture below), but for us humans we have the same kind of thing. We have memories and we get worn down by them and it is trust that can bring us back and dealing with the issues. I’m not saying that bad memories will go away but they might get easier and we can get stronger and even create good memories. Another aspect of this is the nature of the different kinds of clay. Terracotta clay for example is very strong clay, and stands up to a lot of use and misuse, but there is another clay that is often used, a white clay, which is very gentle, and even kneading it requires a light touch. You just can’t thrash it without it collapsing. I think we are like the clay – some are stronger than others, and in general it is best to be kind to all of us, because we don’t know in advance how much we can stand up to.

kneading clay

Getting back to memories though I must tell you about my Jake. He was wiping the dishes with me the other day and I told him not to be cheeky and he said ‘but mum I am going through puberty. I don’t mean to be naughty or cheeky but i just can’t help it and it’s called puberty’. He is 9 and no, he is not going through puberty but I remember having the same talk with Ben about 25 years ago – just the delivery was a little different as Jake is so funny. So some memories are so precious that you never want to forget and they don’t get weak like the clay. So thank you for reading my ravings on clay and yes it probably is a bit late to be learning all these lessons but better late than never!

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One Response to “Clay has a memory”

  1. Mandy says:

    Oh Pam…how lovely. Never too late…believe me. Am so happy to hear you are challenging yourself by stepping put of your comfort zone, well done X X X

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