Pottery Wheel Burn Out – Finding Inspiration Again

“I wanted to reach out to ask you all a question. But have any of you ever had extended periods where even the thought of throwing seemed like a chore, so you just don’t throw? I have only thrown twice since last September…”  T. Cooke
~ Hobby Potter Life Group Member

I’m so glad you shared this question with the group! I was going to share my answer directly with you in the group feed,  but believe there are so many people who have experienced or are experiencing this same dilemma. 

First, you are not alone in seeking space from the wheel.  In my own experience, I began throwing with a strong desire to just learn and grow on the pottery wheel, not handbuilding. So I started the 365 Days of Clay Cups project to do just that.  On my 10th anniversary, I did the whole 365 Cup process a 2nd time in 12 videos but condensed it into a little over 30 days. That event helped me realize something … my focus on throwing had truly changed. I was done throwing for throwing’s sake…but what do I do now?

(What I’ve been Up To! )

It was time to take a break because I had no desire to throw (partly because of physical reasons), but mostly because I had lost enthusiasm thinking about sitting down to throw. Since it was my hobby and not my profession, it occurred to me that I didn’t have to throw if I didn’t want to.  But what I didn’t expect was the guilt I felt not throwing…as if I had betrayed some sort of “calling” with over 500 videos to my name! 

Of course, this isn’t true, but I came to the conclusion that there was so much more I wanted to do with clay but needed to release the idea I MUST throw. It then became okay that the pottery wheel itself took on a more utilitarian aspect, and embracing that I had the skills to use it when it was needed.. this realization was so FREEING!

“It’s not about the wheel, it’s about what you want to make…”

“What DID I want to make with clay?”  
I’m LOVING this new freedom to spend time watching more diverse clay and art videos, reading more technical ceramic magazines, and talking with inspirational clay creatives. Taking time to rebuild the desire to create and explore in clay has found me in a place I never would have imagined just learning the wheel.

Whether I choose handbuilding, throwing, or a combination of the two, I will make sure to ask myself the RIGHT questions! What is it I want to make in the studio today? 

What would you love to create with clay?
Actively seek inspiration so you have created that spark to move you forward again. 

I would love to hear about your experiences with rejuvenating your love of clay! We can always be a light and inspire each other! 

2 thoughts on “Pottery Wheel Burn Out – Finding Inspiration Again

  1. Thank you for posting this! I felt I had to throw a ton to make money so that I could purchase clay, glazes and tools just so I COULD be a hobby Potter. Then last year I sold at a fall festival and really enjoyed it but I sold less online. I sold at a spring arts and crafts festival and did well, but I’m still not doing very well online. BUT I have discovered a similar freedom that you did, Tammy Jo! I realized that I can’t be a slave to making pottery just to bring in money. So I’m back to taking it at my own pace and making what I want, when I want. I am regaining my joy in creating!

    1. This is so great Debbie! I know this was shared back in July and feels like you are a kindred spirit in this clay journey! Enjoying your clay work, makes all the other parts worth it 😀

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