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Don’t be a mug – come and paint one instead!

Written by Arts

Forget essays, exams and university stress: it is time to ‘seize the clay’.

Having survived freshers and the first few painful weeks at university, we all know that the reality of work and deadlines are sinking in fast. I have been trying to find the most creative and hangover-friendly activities to help unwind and take the edge off. The new Pottery Experience is a family-run café which recently opened earlier this year in April, right on our doorsteps in Jesmond. It is the perfect retreat from the stresses of student life. Spending the day painting a mug while enjoying a mocha and a hefty slice of vegan chocolate cake; what more could you want?

The studio is wedged between two antique furniture stores, and fits perfectly into Jesmond’s aesthetic. When you walk in, you can craft your own ceramic piece on the potter’s wheel or simply turn up, select and paint one of the ready-made pieces of pottery. The café also runs various skilled sessions twice a month, as well as pottery socials. The environment was very welcoming for both the experienced and the less so, and the team made it accessible for old, young and everything in between. 

Image: Natasha Millar

I spoke to Hazel Stephenson, who founded and runs the Pottery Experience.

What inspired you to open the Pottery Experience?

‘I have been crafty all my life. I have always been interested in ceramics and if we want to progress in life we have to jump in, I guess I made a big jump’.

Do you believe there is a good therapeutic value in pottery?

‘Absolutely, we get quite a lot of groups from university, especially students who study technical or science subjects; they spend so much time focusing so hard on things like screens or textbooks. They come in and are excited that they have not thought about anything since they arrived! You do not think about anything here, especially when you are on the wheel, you physically cannot- mainly because you are just concentrating on what you feel in your hands and your fingers’.

Who is your target audience?

‘Since we have opened, we mainly see students and adults here. I think they are the people who need something like this. There are loads of things for kids to do, but as an adult you only really have the option to go to the pub, or for food. There are not many activities which allow you to just sit down and take some time out. Students are really great clientele to work with, and they are people upon whom you feel you can have quite a big influence. This is especially because a lot of people who walk through our door will say how they are not creative, but always leave surprised with their ability. It can really help boost their confidence’. 

It is clear from Hazel’s description that the Pottery Experience is very student-centred. I can also attest to that fact – even offers a 10% student discount. 

Overall, I had a very wholesome, hands-on experience. If you are still not convinced of the benefits that come with pottery, the website for the business speaks for itself: ‘it gets people out of their normal routine, gives them something to focus on and brings a sense of calm, joy and discovery as they explore their potential – feelings we now know carry huge mental health benefits’. If you are sorely in need of some sober adult fun, The Pottery Experience is well worth a visit.

Image: Natasha Millar

For more information about The Pottery Experience, head to their website: https://www.thepotteryexperience.co.uk

 

Last modified: 20th October 2019

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