Getting rid of plastic and throwing pottery

As I’ve mentioned before, I am surrounded by creative people who have some uniquely useful skills and I’ve been trying to learn from their example. For instance, my friends just opened an Etsy shop a few months ago selling knitted goods, and my sister-in-law, Nina, has a substantial tumblr showcasing her stellar cooking skills.

I already know that I'm not going to take up knitting anytime soon (too many numbers), and so, when Nina asked me to join a pottery class with her - a throwing class to be more specific - I took her up on her offer. We signed up for Throwing for Beginners at Loam Clay Studio in Hintonburg. Sometimes, when learning a new skill, it’s sort of impossible to do it at home. 

Learning to make dishes out of natural materials is one way to get rid of plastic in the home. Plastic is made from petrochemicals, and it can leach harmful chemicals into food – the most notable of which is Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA has been linked to health problems, like cancer, reduced fertility, and miscarriages – you can read more in-depth about it here. Any chance to limit my exposure to plastic is a good thing.  

My husband and I have already changed most of our cookware to cast iron and ceramic and we’ve disposed of all our Teflon. Our utensils and containers are mostly glass, wood, and stainless steel. We’re not completely plastic-free yet, it’s almost impossible to be, since food from the grocery store comes in plastic packaging and Tupperware is handy at times, but we try our best. But above all, we didn’t have anything that we had made ourselves (although, my husband is always talking about making wooden mugs - he did make a wooden spoon).

Here is a video of Chris Donnelly from Cyan Clay Works in the UK that depicts the same methods that we learned in class.

I found working with pottery and a pottery wheel very challenging. Just learning how to hold my hands and use the correct pressure took a few classes and a lot of trial and error. It was about the fifth class before I was comfortable and making things that looked the way I wanted them. When I finished the course, I had eight differently shaped vessels: a squat mug, two average sized bowls, and two smaller bowls. The rest could be classified as vases or pen holders (they're all functional too, except for a dribbly spout). Seeing what everyone made and knowing that we all shared a sense of accomplishment was a bonus.



Amanda Kavanagh

Amanda Kavanagh was an educator and is an aspiring writer. During her career as a teacher she came to the realization that she needed an outlet for her strong opinions. She enrolled in Algonquin College’s Professional Writing program. Along with her career change, Amanda has also made some life changes. Her do-it-yourself projects, gardening and research into living a cleaner and more satisfying life have become some of her favourite past-times.

Amanda peruses these sites from time to time:
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