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Anyone who has taken pottery classes in Melbourne has probably noticed the soothing effect it has on your body and mind. While spinning and observing the clay as you mould it to a particular shape, your body and mind are in natural synergy bringing to life your creative desires.
This is probably why celebrities are now getting their hands dirty with clay too. Even Brad Pitt and Leonardo Di Caprio were reportedly sculpting together late in the evenings just a few months ago. In an interview with GQ Brad Pitt said, “I’m having a moment of getting to feel emotion at my fingertips” when discussing his newfound passion for pottery.
The good news is you don’t need to be a celebrity to reap the benefits of this mindful practice. Pottery in Melbourne, Australia’s art capital, as well as every other state in the country, is super accessible.
This mindful trend of taking pottery and ceramics classes has not just gained popular status because of celebrities, but also because of the increasing scientific evidence and research that proves art enhances brain function. Participating in art has an impact on brain wave patterns and emotions, the nervous system, and can increase serotonin levels and reduce cortisol levels, the stress hormone.
In fact, just 45 minutes of art can have this effect on the body with 75 per cent of participants in a study who engaged in artistic production experiencing this decrease in cortisol, according to a 2016 study published in Art Therapy. So when you feel an overwhelming calm come over you at your first ceramics class, painting class or any other form of art you aren’t imagining it. These simple creative acts are actually having a really positive effect on your mental wellbeing - even if it’s only getting out of your head for an hour or so.
Historical art therapy research has been heavily focused on art-making using two-dimensional materials. Research has been popping up in the past decade around the use of clay as a medium in art therapy. In a 2012 study, the effects of creative clay work were examined on participants who experienced an induced negative mood and then went on to achieve more than a 50 per cent greater improvement in mood after simple clay intervention.
Our fingertips contain some of the densest areas of nerve endings on the body. Just playing with the clay and stimulating these pressure points is bound to have considerable therapeutic benefits. The malleability of the clay itself distinguishes pottery as a pretty special form of art, immediately syncing up our mind and body.
So if you’re considering taking up pottery as a mindful hobby, then these proven health benefits might convince you to do so!
Hand-built pottery requires a lot of focus and presence, with every subtle movement requiring attention and precision. This in turn reduces the distractions of the outside world which may have been causing you stress. The sense of touch can be enough to distract your mind and just 45 minutes of working with clay can significantly reduce cortisol levels, the body’s stress hormone. So if meditating at home or exercising at the gym is not helping to switch-off your mind, pottery might require the right amount of presence to melt all your outside stresses away, without the sweat.
Pottery is a very precise art, and so it requires a lot of focus and concentration. If that’s not something you’ve previously been great at then pottery is a fun and creative way to help improve those skills. The more clay work you do, the easier you will find it to get in the zone and slip into a sharper focus and be able to concentrate for longer periods of time.
You will be able to apply this to the rest of your life outside of ceramics class, which will not only assist your productivity in life but also your mental wellbeing. Focusing on other self-care practices like meditating, will become a lot easier and it will be much simpler to reap the benefits from these practices as well as in your pottery work.
Expressing yourself through creating art has significant physical and mental benefits. Not only is it a fun and mindful hobby, but it also offers a break from the anxieties and stresses of life and is scheduled time for yourself to reset your focus and mental state. It promotes a healthy mind but also a healthy body, as research has found that having a creative outlet can also lower blood pressure. When you allocate consistent time to a creative outlet, such as pottery, you feel refreshed. You might even find yourself more productive, engaged, creative and discover a passion you never knew you had.
Unlike painting, drawing or other forms of art, which stay where you put them, clay fights back. The resistance the clay gives back to you is actually a really great way to strengthen the hands, wrists and arms. The movement of making pottery is gentle enough that it doesn’t feel like an actual workout but resistant enough to strengthen and exercise your upper body. This is beneficial for everyone but is particularly valuable if you’re prone to arthritis as it helps to promote joint movement and dexterity.
While pottery is something you generally make on your own, that doesn’t mean you have to do so alone. Getting involved in pottery classes or joining a ceramic studio where you can work on your own pieces in the company of others, not only helps you creatively get inspired and motivated by other people’s work but it can also be really beneficial to your mental health. The casual atmosphere in pottery classes and studios allows everyone to relax and all social anxiety woes are forgotten. You will get to meet and chat with some other like-minded potters and the necessary silence in between conversation will never feel awkward as you work on your own pieces.
You can reap all of these therapeutic benefits yourself by trying ClassBento’s range of different pottery classes, suited for everyone from beginners to more experienced potters!