Connection meets creativity in Rachel Saunders’ how-to for pottery at home. Currently in the midst of a 14-day quarantine after flying from L.A., the ceramicist has been looking for fresh ways to channel it outside the studio. And fortuitously, this one benefits us. “I’ve been trying just to focus on feeling healthy in my mind and body all while staying connected,” she tells. “And my work has seemingly taken on new forms during this time in regards to sharing with different mediums, and I am loving that.”
Read on for Saunders’ wisdom to keeping inspiration flowing in isolation, finding pleasure amidst adversity and her video guide to creating a simple vase with all the signature curves we’ve come to expect of her works. It’s a meditative distraction to beautify your space. And before you ask, there’s no need to go out to buy clay. All you’ll require for pottery at home is baking soda, corn starch and water - and you’ll find the recipe below.
How do you stay creative in isolation?
I’m careful not to put much pressure on myself right now to be much of anything. I find I am just needing to succumb to stillness and let go of the nagging voice that tells me I need to be productive or creative or ‘on’ in any sense, and then it can just come when it’s ready. This stillness and ‘break’ has actually been very powerful for me. I’ve been able to attune to my own creative rhythm again. Authentic inspiration is reaching me more naturally than when I’m usually out looking for it.
What brings you the most pleasure in times like these?
Watching people come together, seeing them tap into their diverse gifts and inner wisdom. More being / less doing. Exploring the facets of myself that I normally wouldn’t. Baking a fresh loaf of sourdough in the morning, excitedly anticipating whether or not it turned out. The meaninglessness of time or days of the week. Making every single meal I eat from scratch. Talking to my family daily. The deep and vulnerable connections that are born from times of change and upheaval. Enjoying the beautiful home I have made for myself that I rarely get to fully experience. Listening to wonderful music, watching beautiful films. Dreaming with new razor-sharp clarity how I want my life to look going forward.
What inspired your latest demonstration? And why did you choose to make this piece?
I have been enjoying sharing more recently and the exchanges that ensue, and because I wasn’t motivated to make my own work, I wanted to show others how they could do it themselves with simple tools and ingredients. Many of us are feeling whacked out in our minds right now from an overwhelm of information, fear, and grief, and working with our hands is such a natural and effective way to let some of that go. I made a vase because it’s a simple shape that anyone can make and it brings me comfort.
Saunders’ guide to pottery at home
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You can make your own air drying clay with cornstarch and baking soda, and there’s a super sweet video over on @rudyjude’s account showing it.
1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup water
Combine ingredients in a heavy bottomed pot
Stir continuously while cooking over medium heat until clay forms
Transfer clay to bowl to cool
Store in airtight container in the fridge