PLAYING WITH CLAY AT MAKERS’ YARD, LEICESTER
Whilst doing my A-levels many moons ago, I dabbled in some clay and pottery lessons and vaguely remembered the sense of achievement from creating my own little masterpiece. So when a friend suggested we pop along to The Clay Room at Maker’s Yard, I was excited to indulge for the two hour clay play session! Totally up for the creative juices to start flowing and to indulge in some much deserved well being time, from my busy schedule!
Makers’ Yard is essentially a studio space for artists, creatives and designer makers, located in the heart of the cultural quarter in Leicester city centre. The building received grade II listed status in 2006 from the English Heritage and dates back to 1854 and is the oldest surviving hosiery factory in the East Midlands. It underwent an extensive restoration project to beautifully restore the former factory into ten studios, which houses a growing creative community of artists and designer-makers, in the fields of photography, pottery, couture and even more.
You enter via beautiful wrought iron gates into a cobble-stoned courtyard adorned with pretty fairy lights! The studios are in keeping with the traditional factory façade featuring open brickwork and supporting beams.
Makers’ Yard is managed by the team at LCB Depot along the road at 31 Rutland Street, Leicester LE1 1RE Tel 0116 261 6800 email email@example.com
Makers’ Yard and LCB Depot are run by Leicester City Council, City Development & Neighbourhoods Tourism, Culture & Inward Investment.
THE CLAY ROOM
Studio 4, The Clay Room is a membership studio, providing space, communal equipment and technical support. It’s a professional ceramics studio at affordable prices. Memberships are offered for experienced makers, providing the perfect setting for the development of skills and practice. Some of the creatives who work here are involved in the community programme such as the two hour taster session.
THE EXPERIENCE: TWO HOUR CLAY TASTER SESSION
After a relaxed arrival, the lovely Charlie, one of the creative members, who uses the ceramics space, introduced us to some of the techniques we would be using in the two hour taster session.
The session is also completely suitable for beginners and was about using clay to create an item of your choice (something that can be completed in the time allotted). Simple hand building techniques such as pinching, coiling, slabbing, throwing, decorating and glazing.
You are encouraged to work in your own time and be as creative as you like with the tools available and Charlie was on hand to offer advice and any guidance.
Being a fan of Japanese ceramics, I thought I’d attempt a decorative item for my new kitchen.
I started with a small ball of clay, which I worked with my hands to make it more malleable then started with the pinching technique to build a bowl shape.
Next I built up the sides by coiling, which is essentially rolling out long sausage shapes and building them up by slowing blending them into the main structure.
After a lot of smoothing using the kidney tool and shaping to achieve a nice base and slighted fluted top, I used a heart stamp to decorate the outside of the bowl.
Finally it was time to glaze my Japanese sauce bowl, as I renamed it due to its smaller size. In keeping with most of be-lavie HQ, I opted for a grey glaze, which is literally painted on in a couple of layers and that’s it for now.
Unfortunately you can’t take your pieces away with you as the final step is the firing process in the kiln so I’ll be able to collect my sauce bowl in six weeks when you can see the finished article.
The two hour taster session costs £15 plus a material charge of £6 per Kg of clay! My Japanese Sauce bowl cost me a grand total of £1.52!!
This is a thoroughly enjoyable relaxing but creative experience, which leaves you feeling with a great sense of accomplishment. The practical experience mixed with great conversation and creative ideas of the other attendees, I’m sure will leave you inspired to carry on further ceramic experiences as it’s pretty addictive. Definitely recommend and for the price it’s a total bargain! Think of it as wellbeing experience!
Six weeks later and here’s my finished Japenese sauce ball after it was glazed.
Tell me, have you tried Pottery classes or experiences? Did you love a spot of playing with clay?
The Clay Room
The Maker’s Yard
82-86 Rutland Street
Leicester LE1 1Sb
Just a thought but taster sessions at the clay room could make a lovely little gift idea too…