At Creve Coeur, we encourage our memory care residents to pursue any form of artistic expression that may appeal to them. Many forms of artistic creativity have proven to be highly beneficial and therapeutic for those suffering from memory loss, from music to writing to painting. One particular form of art that someone struggling with memory health may find cathartic is pottery.
Pottery is a functional and expressive form of creativity found in countless cultures across the globe. If you're trying to learn a new hobby or cathartic craft to enjoy, pottery may be right up your alley, and it may be cheaper than you'd assume. Furthermore, if your community or town has a local pottery store or club, you may even have access to quality equipment and seasoned expertise as you master the fundamentals. Here are some basic things you should know before you make your first coffee mug!
While certain equipment is needed to make your clay masterpieces, you don't actually have to purchase/own most of this equipment; in fact, the only equipment you'll most likely need to buy for yourself is clay, a sponge and a simple trimming tool kit. The latter can typically be purchased for around $15 and is particularly useful for those who want to go that extra mile and add designs to their clay creations.
A 25-pound bag of clay usually costs about $20. It's important to know what type of clay is best for you, though; this is where finding a local pottery store or club comes in, which should be relatively easy either via Google search or social media. Find their opening hours or next meeting date and make a point to go by. Don't be afraid to ask employees or members basic questions, such as what kind of clay is best for a beginner or what temperature you should heat it to.
Additionally, if a local club is in possession of pottery wheels, kilns and other facilities, ask if they're open to public use. These pieces of equipment, albeit essential to the craft, are often quite expensive — sometimes even thousands of dollars. If you're just getting started and are gauging your talent and interest in pottery, there's no need to invest that kind of money right away. Take advantage of public-use facilities during this time as you learn the ropes and decide if pottery is something you have a passion for and would like to pursue further.
If you feel you're ready to purchase your first wheel for home use, you may want to consider a basic, rudimentary model between $400-$700, especially if you haven't been doing pottery for very long. There are plenty of trusty and reliable wheels on the market available in this price range.
You may be able to find even cheaper wheels available for online purchase on platforms such as Amazon, where some are listed for $100-$200. However, as most seasoned ceramists will tell you, these wheels — albeit very affordable — may prove to be more trouble than they're worth and, upon closer examination, are often reviewed very negatively by previous online purchasers. For those who want a quality home pottery wheel that will retain value and functionality over time, $400 is typically the bare minimum budget.
If you don't have access to public pottery equipment and are unable to purchase your own, don't worry — you can still delve into the joys of pottery. In fact, many beginners start with hand-crafting their clay and prefer to get comfortable with that before firing up a kiln.
When putting your creations through a kiln, the interior temperature is measured using a unit called cones. Before reaching the kiln stage, however, your clay will go through a cycle of textures and hardness. It's important to understand the different stages of clay when shaping and designing a new piece.
If you're starting to get really creative and make pottery masterpieces composed of multiple pieces, it's important to remember that you can't meld or attach pieces that are at different levels of dryness, as this can actually damage and even ruin the individual pieces.
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