The ceramics instructor demonstrated the basic steps to making a bowl on the pottery wheel, with what appeared to be minimal effort. My co-workers and I, all six of us, stood around and marveled at her skill.

Centering the clay on the wheel was the most challenging step. Once we completed a series of actions leading up to the point where the lump resembled a bowl, I surveyed my colleagues’ work. Each bowl-like configuration was unique to each other, as were our personalities:

illustration of six bowls, each on a potters wheel, each shaped differently

As beginners in this medium, we each landed somewhere on a spectrum between aggression and caution. The aggressive and eager ended up with misshapen bowls, or bowls with asymmetric, concave lines. The cautious ended up with bowls that gave the appearance of symmetry, but in actuality were made up of structurally unsound walls: thin on one side, thick on the other. I fell into the latter camp.

Before class began, I walked into the studio with much anticipation. I envisioned myself being secretly gifted enough to create a beautiful bowl on the first try, but the vision didn’t pan out. As with yoga or painting, pottery is a practice…the more I learn, the more there is to learn.