Blindfolded Pottery Class

Every couple of semesters I have my pottery students make a pot at the potters wheel while blindfolded. This is always a fun night with lots of giggles, which quickly turns into serious business once the hands touch the clay.

I learned this blindfold technique about 20+ years ago when I was struggling with simple forms at the potters wheel. I was frustrated with something (I can’t remember exactly, as it was so long ago), so I closed my eyes and just felt the clay rather than looking at the clay. I remember a moment where something clicked, and I said to myself maybe I’m trying too hard. So I cleaned up my hands and got an old bandana and made a blindfold for myself. I threw a couple of pots like this. For the first time in many years of throwing, I was truly feeling the clay without worry of the way it came out. Forms naturally became looser, and I got past the road block I was having.

When my students do this class with a blindfold on, quiet takes over the room. It’s as though when one sense is taken away all of the other senses become more acute. The sense of touch is what I am going for in this exercise, and it truly takes over… but it’s the other senses quieting down that add to this experience, it’s not just about eyesight. When the blindfold is on the hands gain an uninterrupted path to the brain.

Working with clay is naturally so zen like, this exercise makes it more so.