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pottery

The Two Jimmys

By | Art, Disability, Lifestyle

When I started taking classes in pottery last year, I began to hand build creatures out of clay. They were initially creatures from my head. Mythical creatures that live in dreams and fantasy stories. One day, I was beginning what I expected to be another mythical creature. This piece of clay had other ideas, I sculpted my last guide dog Roscoe.

That sculpture showed me just how well my hands can see. It doesn’t just look like a dog, it looks like him.

After this, Fee suggested I could make other animals and give them disabilities. Show through sculpture the abilities of people with various disabilities. The idea was to create the animal and then write a story of their journey. This story could continue when they found new homes. Incorporating the journey of the person, or people they found homes with.

One of the first animals I made was a water dragon. I had a willing model to use as my guide. Jimmy, Fee’s water dragon who lives at the studio.

I’d never touched a lizard like him. I’d stroked the backs of a couple of blue-tongues and gone out of my way to avoid any opportunity to pat a snake. I knew that Jimmy was at the studio and was curious, but didn’t actually meet him until I decided to sculpt him.

The first time I held him was magical. He sat on my hand and I could feel him breathing. I was afraid to move. Not because I was scared of Jimmy, rather, I was afraid of disturbing him. His skin felt like rows of little bumps, His spine is smooth, as long as you stroke him down from head to tail. The most surprising and beautiful thing that day was that he let me touch his face. I moved my hand very slowly and gently from the back of his head over his face, prepared to stop at any sign he didn’t like it. He didn’t react at all.

I’ve always been told I have a very gentle and smoothing touch, but that day, I felt like I’d been given one of the greatest gifts of my life.

Slowly I started to get to know Jimmy and he began to know me. He liked to lie across my chest and tuck his little head under my chin. And for me, I loved the feel of his skin under my fingers. Slowly I realised that I was far calmer and in the present when I held Jimmy. I also got to know what he looked like with each session. All of this memory and feeling I put into my sculpture.

It’s been a long process. What with lockdown and other projects getting in the way, but Jimmy the sculpture finally came home with me. I can see little errors in the work. I haven’t gotten the texture of his skin quite right. The body isn’t narrow enough at the hips. What’s surprised me is that, I can see these errors, but I’m not beating myself up over them. I’ve been taking notes for next time. Learning more about the craft so I can improve with each piece.

Just before I brought Jimmy the sculpture home, with some help, I got a photo of the two Jimmys. Jimmy the Lizzard was quite happy to sit beside his likeness.

I finished the actual sculpting more than six months ago, but Jimmy still comes out of his tank for cuddles. Now he likes to sit on my shoulder while I work. He’ll sit on my back with his head and front feet over my shoulder. Wandering around on my back and shoulders when he wants to find a more comfortable spot.

I’ve come to care very deeply for this magical Water Dragon. Partly because I like spending time with him, but more importantly, because he’s happy to trust me.

He’s been generous enough to let me use him as a muse. So I hope you all like Jimmy the sculpture as much as I do.

 

-Sam Ogilvie

SCULPT AND SIP NIGHT

By | Art

A few weekends ago saw the first of Art Mania’s new and popular pottery workshops.

On Saturday night, a group of energetic and excited women arrived at the studio for “sculpt and sip.”

Apart from myself, all were new to the Art Mania Studio experience.

Sip and Sculpt was an evening of wine, food and hand-building with clay.

Each of us were given a portion of clay and after Kristie demonstrated a few key techniques, we were told to go for it. To make whatever we imagined. The volume was high, the energy sparkling with possibility and the wine flowed. Everyone was keen to give hand-building a go.

There was bonding in collective creativity, the opportunity to have time out from partners and children and a general enjoyment of the night. 

Part way through the evening, the group broke for a chance to enjoy one of Fee’s legendary platters. There were four types of cheeses, fruit, salad vegetables, cold meat and crackers. Everyone tucked in and continued to laugh and chat. And of course, more wine was poured and sipped by all.

In the first half of the workshop, we were encouraged to get their pieces completed, ready for stage two, after the break. One of the advantages of the weather warming up, is that pieces will dry faster.

At the studio, we work with two different types of glazes. There are under glazes. These are the glazes used for your base coat. These glazes are matte and after firing, do not change. What you see on your piece, as you glaze, is the colour your piece will stay. The other kind are fantasy glazes. These will change colour after firing. They also contain small chunks of glass and crystal. These little pieces will melt on firing adding a gloss and shimmer to your piece. Under glazes are the only ones that can be applied before the first firing. This first firing is known as a bisque fire.

On Saturday night, the group was offered that chance to apply an under glaze to their pieces. Part of the workshop was this opportunity to under glaze their work and then have it fired. Once the firing is done, a clear glaze will be applied before a second, glaze firing, is done. In around six weeks, the members of the workshop will be able to come in and collect their completed work.

I have to confess, the group was just a little loud for me. I only have a small voice and I’ve learnt over the years that there are times that I am just not going to be able to be heard. This doesn’t bother me, I like the dynamic energy. The joy of people letting go and letting themselves see what will happen, what they can create. I can sit and create, let the conversation wash over me and enjoy the night. They were a great group and I hope everyone comes back and participates in some of our other workshops.

We’ve also just launched our fourth term program. Part of next term are more sip and sculpt workshops. We are also running a high tea!

This is my favourite time of the term. When the current term is about to wind up and the next term is shimmering and sparkling just out of reach.

I love to sit down and workout what I’d like to try in the coming up term. It’s a lot like Christmas for me. So please, check out what’s still left this term, you might be lucky enough to snag a spot. Check out next term’s offerings and find something you’re interested in. Or maybe something that will push you outside your comfort zone.

I hope to see you in class soon!

– Sam Ogilvie

HOW DOES LOVE SHAPE YOU?

By | Art

What is love?

Can it be defined?

How does it shape us, create us and steer us?

If we look at love too closely it can sometimes feel like it will disappear, so we keep it just in the corners of our vision and we feel safe knowing it still exists in its shapeshifting way.

When we think it’s gone, we can crumble into a heap and question the very fabric of existence. 

If we brave looking into the heart of the flame of love it can be so overwhelming that it threatens to tumble us in its crashing waves and drown us in its intensity.

Quite simply, love makes the world go round.

It fuels our desires, it propels our passions and it makes us stand up for what we believe in.

Gary Chapman used his many years as a counsellor to communicate to over 11 million people in his book The Five Love Languages, that we all connect to one or more of these love languages. Understanding yours and others can help to improve relationships with partners, family members and friends.

When I took the love language quiz I was interested to find that Acts of Service, Quality Time and Physical Touch all ranked as equal first, with Words of Affirmation a close second. Funnily enough Receiving Gifts was a low scoring last. It made me reflect on Christmas time and the gift giving frenzy that whips us up into consumerist hogs. I never wanted to buy into it, theoretically or physically.

I would always make presents. I’d spend hours crafting something with my hands for the special people in my life and it made me feel good. Now I recognise that it tapped into all 3 of my top love languages.

Acts of Service –
I took the time to create something special for someone.

Quality Time –
that time was focused, with my energy invested into the creation.

Physical Touch –
By creating things with my hands I was imbuing my love and energy into the piece.

It’s nice when something that you have always done finds a deeper space of understanding.

The upcoming workshop, Introduction to the Pottery Wheel (timed for Valentines Day) feels close to my heart. Creating with clay tickles my love languages and with the endless artistic avenues that pottery provides, it finds its way into most people‘s hearts and languages. Valentine’s Day can feel very Americanised and consumerism driven, however if we take out the ‘should’ and come back to the essence of what this day is about, it’s all about love, and love is a natural state and that feels right.

How do you express love? 

How do the people in your life receive love?

Can you make this Valentines, a day to find that out and communicate in a new way?

For those that love to express through creativity, through acts of service, quality time or physical touch, check out the pottery workshop, it could be a great occasion to share with someone you love or a great way to make something special for that special someone.

Remember:

Love is like water.

You can fall in it,

You can drown in it,

But, you can’t live without it.

Written by Jen Majenta Moon, Art Mania Team Member

Top 5 points why one should do a pottery course with Art Mania Studio!

By | Art, Lifestyle

Top 5 points why one should do a pottery course with Art Mania Studio!

 

Something that comes from the earth, tactile, resulting in engaging in the creative brain which can be described as relaxing and therapeutic at the same time! When we work with clay, through hand-building or spinning clay on a wheel, our mind and body are in a state of synergy while being focused on the tactile process: the touch and the feel of soft clay between our fingers. 

The perfect mindfulness process to creating a door for your outside worries to fall away.

 

1. An outlet for ‘Self’ 

We all need an out from time to time! Too often than not, everyday life gets in the way of allowing us regular weekly time out to truly do something for ones’ self! There is a plethora of documented statistics, evidence based which demonstrate the importance for both physical and mental wellbeing, by engaging the creative brain. Pottery offers you an outlet for self!

2. The Brain’s Pleasure Centre

The brain produces many natural chemicals, dopamine is just one.  Dopamine affects your emotions, movements and your sensations of pleasure and pain. When our sensors kick in with the tactile processes or  hand-building with clay or working on a pottery wheel… BINGO! The brains receptors kick in and you start to feel good, hence the term ‘Pleasure Centre’!

3. Improve focus

When the pleasure centre kicks in while working with clay or on a Pottery wheel, you will notice improvements in areas including: flow and spontaneity, reduction in grief related thoughts; assists with self-identification and self-expression while also bolstering confidence and self-esteem. Being able to fully focus with the combination of hand and brain engagement assist the mind in coping with everyday life.

4. Reduces stress

 Our hands can be the answer to the reduction in stress, depression and anxiety! The importance of touch opens the flood gates to the pleasure centre.  Think about it…! Our hands can be the perfect outlet for creativity and focus; therefore outside distractions and influences are reduced to allow you time for ‘self’.

5. Helps reduce pain and discomfort

The movement of working with clay and creating on the pottery wheel is gentle yet strengthening to the hands, wrists, and arms. This can be beneficial to those prone to arthritis in the hands, as it promotes joint movement and dexterity. It’s common knowledge ‘stress’ can lead to feeling sensations of pain and discomfort. Creative hobbies – pottery is known for reducing stress and boosting self-esteem! It’s the natural chemical released in the brain which alleviates pain receptors while working with clay!

So tap into your pleasure centre, and get your clay on at Art Mania Studio’s fantastic welcoming studio space!

UPCOMING POTTERY CLASSES

Open Studio Night, Soup & Damper

By | Art, Lifestyle | No Comments

Studio Open Night – Soup & Damper Studio Birthday Bash!

This term we warmed up Wallsend with delicious soups, birthday candles & a cosy fire at our Studio Open Night. Each term Art Mania Studio holds this event to showcase the upcoming array of workshops, block courses & weekly classes available at the studio.

Between 6 & 8:30pm over 50 people got to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere & live art demonstrations. With wine in hand & soup in bellies everyone further tantalised their taste buds with the delectable range of creative opportunities on offer.

A highlight of the evening was the launch of the upcoming July School holidays Art Attack schedule. Face painting demonstrations opened everyone’s eyes to how fun the family face painting workshop will be, & Clay Play, Enchanted Succulent Gardens & Superhero Cartoons were just the tip of the huge range of arty goodness on offer.

 

A few special folk also left with extra big smiles as they scored the lucky door prizes of some of the beautiful handmade glass art the studio creates. Art Mania Studio couldn’t go past the rainbow cake to celebrate their 10th Birthday which beautifully topped off the night. Fee Madigan, the studio’s director, spoke from the heart, thanking all who came & all who helped. “It truly is a Happy Place, not just for those we welcome through our doors, but for me & the incredible team who make this life of creativity worthwhile.”

This community hub will be opening our doors again in Term 3 for another Studio Open Night, but before that we’re excited about the Rug & a Mug event. Live music, hot soups, hot chai & of course, lots of art.

See you in Your Happy Place,

Love,

Art Mania Studio