Forget 10,000 Hours! Practice Makes Progress

Sarah Schembri shares 5 practical tips on how to learn a new skill by being in the moment

Creativity 5 min read Jan 21, 2020

To the untrained eye, pottery might seem like an experimental, unpredictable, and messy trade. But that also means no two ceramic pieces are exactly alike and whatever you create is uniquely yours. (That might explain why wheel throwing and hand building workshops are particularly popular among WeTeachMe students in Melbourne and Sydney. They’re quite the crafty bunch!)

We recently sat with renowned ceramicist Sarah Schembri and she was happy to share her expert tips, for those who are curious to try the art of clay.

ICYMI: ENTER HERE to win two (2) seats to Sarah’s highly popular Wheel and Unwind workshop!

TIP #1: Face it, you’re a noob

When you first try to learn a new skill, it’s best to manage your expectations. Don’t presume you’ll be a master at it straight away. Pottery, like many things, can take a few years to learn thoroughly. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy every second of the experience while you’re at it.

TIP #2: Slow doowwwnn

If you’re a natural at everything you do, good for you! But if you’re like the rest of us mortals, you probably like to take your time as you discover your new skill. And that’s alright, too. Everyone has a learning curve. Besides, if you think something might be harder than it looks, it probably is - but not for long! Refer to Tip #3.

TIP #3: Practise, practise, practise

The secret to success? Practice, of course. Try not to give up after only a few tries, just because you’re just “not getting it”. Be as patient as a few superstars we know, who didn’t find their calling until later in life.

To live the maker’s life, after all, is to be comfortable in your own skin - sometimes, literally! For example, wear casual clothing and closed-toe shoes. Leave your watches, rings, and bracelets at home, so they don’t get in the way. If you wear your nails long, you’re going to need to cut them. Because you really have to get in there, when you work the clay.

TIP #4: Find ways to stay inspired

Once you’ve nailed the basics, you’ll want to take your newfound passion to the next level. Good for you! Just keep practising and do as many classes as you can. Join a creative community and maybe even find yourself a mentor. Sustain that feeling of productivity! Take long walks and surround yourself with nature, inspiration, and energy. Bonus: Trying out new things is the best thing you can do to be the best at your job.

TIP #5: Relish that ultimate click sound

When you first start out, you’ll find that it can take weeks to get into the rhythm of pottery and finally centre the clay. Keep at it! As soon as you decide to commit to the entire experience, that’s when you begin to enjoy the benefits of muscle memory–the dexterity and sophistication that you can only acquire from frequent repetition of the same movements. (Hear that? That’s the sound of your mind and hands finally connecting.)

So, a final tip: Enjoy your time behind the wheel, keep an open mind, and don’t forget to have fun!

Don’t miss out! ENTER HERE and win two (2) seats to Sarah’s highly popular Wheel and Unwind workshop! Promo ends on Sunday, 20th October 2019, 11:59PM EST. Open only to residents of Victoria.

Perfect for pottery beginners!

Wheel & Unwind Workshop

Introduction to the Pottery Wheel