Thrown into Pottery
When was the last time you read a book that inspired to go and try something new? For me it was when I read Thrown by Sara Cox (out now in hardback). Now maybe the thought was already there, buried in my mind from the days of Ghost, but it was Sara’s book that made me really want to give it a go.
Luckily for me, there is a new pottery studio and shop opening in Marlow called Keeeps and they very kindly agreed to allow me to come along and try a class in return for an honest review so here’s what I thought.
First of all we have to talk about the shop and studio’s design. Back in the day, I worked for Livingetc magazine and this shop would certainly not be out of place on its pages. It is just so beautiful, the colours throughout are stunning (the blue as you come in the front door is pure perfection) and it just has the most lovely calming feeling. In fact, I wouldn't mind moving in there myself - it is that nice!
What I really like is how Tamra, owner of Keeeps, has gone to great lengths to lovingly restore The White House, their flagship store in Marlow, bringing it back to its former glory. The building has an incredible history (you can read more here https://www.keeeps.co.uk/pages/marlow-story) but one thing that I thought was so lovely is that one of Keeeps’ kilns is named “Ann”, after the widow of a young surgeon who lived in the property. As I looked around the shop and studio, Jules (Head of Retail at Keeeps) was able to tell me all the fascinating snippets of history that just made me realise how special this place really is.
"Blissful moments of silence"
On the day of my course, I arrived to find a small group of ladies all ready and waiting to get creative. Emma, our amazing tutor for the afternoon, got straight to work demonstrating the various methods that we would be trying; pinching, slab building, coiling and throwing. Emma is incredibly talented she made it look so easy and then it was over to us and well it didn’t come easily to me… at all. However, with Emma’s gentle encouragement I did manage to make a small heart dish and a little pot (goodness knows how they’ll turn out) but here’s the thing; I don't really mind because I really enjoyed making them. There were times throughout the afternoon when there was chatter and laughter amongst the group but there were these other blissful moments of silence. When I looked up I could see that everybody was just totally absorbed in what they were doing and for me it felt like the first time I had truly relaxed in ages.
After a short break, it was time to get behind the wheel, so to speak! Again Emma was there to demonstrate first and she just made it look so effortless. Watching her quickly and skilfully turn a lump of clay into a beautiful bowl was mesmerising. And then it was my turn and of course I was a disaster but the same thing happened. I wasn’t at all worried, I knew I was a million miles away from getting it right but I was just really enjoying it. At times finding it hilarious at the mess I was making but again just having these amazing moments of noticing that I had totally switched off.
It would never have occurred to me that a couple of hours of pottery could be so relaxing
Finally it was time to glaze our handiwork which again I just found to be so relaxing. I went to this class on a Friday after what had been a pretty stressful week. The day before I’d been saying that I felt like I could really do with a nice spa day. It would never have occurred to me that a couple of hours of pottery could be so relaxing. When I got home I immediately got online and booked some more courses with Keeeps this time for my children and I know they are going to love it too.
Pottery classes brought a community together
When reading Sara’s book I was really drawn to how the pottery classes brought a community together and I really think that this will happen with Keeeps. Chatting to owner Tamra (and her gorgeous pooch Milo), it is clear to see how passionate she is. A sculptor herself, Tamra is doing an incredible job of supporting artists. She talked about how she loved going out and finding the potters who she will be stocking in the shop as there is always a story behind them.
The whole building shakes with laughter
Keeeps in Marlow officially opens on Thursday! There is a gorgeous shop with just the most beautiful works of art, it'll be where I head to for special birthday presents and I would definitely do more of their classes.
I really think there is something for everyone on their timetable - including singles nights; wouldn’t it be wonderful to start a new relationship off with your very own scene from Ghost! As for the children’s classes, I can only imagine the chaos of having a group of seven year olds throwing clay on to a wheel but Tamra says “the whole building shakes with laughter”. I feel like Keeeps will be bringing a lot of joy on to our lovely high street.
More than a five stars
I would like to thank the team at Keeeps for making me so welcome. A special thank you to Jules, Emma, Penny and of course Meg you were so wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon with you. I wish you every success with your wonderful new business.
So it is more than a five star review from me, it was a wonderful afternoon and I would highly recommend it to everyone. If you are not based in Marlow and would like to try Keeeps do keep an an eye on their website as there are plans for more! Finally, I would also like to thank Sara Cox as it was reading her fabulous book Thrown that gave me the encouragement I needed to try something new.