Throwing Pottery?

Throwing pottery has been on my “want to try that someday” list for many years.

I was at an Airbnb this weekend north of Damascus, VA stepping out into another “want to do that someday” lifelong goal of writing a book.

Little did I know that my chosen pursuit would meet surprise pursuit in the same weekend!

The gravel road that led to my Airbnb continued upward with a sign reading “Grim Pottery” and in need of a break, I drove up and up. As I got closer large pieces of functional pottery in various colors indicated the path. And then a clearing, a log home, garden, chickens and a sign “Studio/Shop” with an arrow to the basement.

My hope was simply to have a chance to look around, that it would be open on a Saturday and that I might find a unique small piece to commemorate my first “writing retreat” weekend.

The shop was open and Debbie greeted me warmly. As we talked, she motioned me to the wheel, placed a bat, and wedged a piece of clay (I even learned the terminology!) And THEN she handed me an apron, motioned me to the wheel and graciously instructed

Keep your hands wet.

Attach your arm to the wheel edge or your body.

Slowly… slowly…

And she made it look




I loved it. Even the flops – the time my edge caved in. the time she had to get a new ball of clay and center it for me because my flop was…. Unrecoverable.

Many have written of the metaphors of this ancient art. For me, I am savoring the gift of surprise pursuit, the chance to do something for the first time – I never want to stop growing in the opportunity to learn from flops.

It’s not easy for Enneagram 1’s to flop when our motivation is goodness and rightness at all costs. As I support coachees and leaders and teams, I remind them of the need for safe spaces to flop – the stakes for mistakes are high in many industries – but knowing we have master potter leaders who recognize the connection between safety and performance and innovation allows us to grow through the flops.

And I’m going to need a pottery wheel for my office!