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Pottery Club re-invents the wheel, encourages student creativity

It is a firmly established fact that Brandeis, in its endless pursuit of fostering an all-inclusive environment, is home to many different clubs and organizations that allow students to explore their unique interests, while simultaneously being part of a larger collective. However, as the already extensive list of extracurriculars increases annually, more and more clubs and organizations are pushed to the brink of obscurity. One such group, the Brandeis Pottery Club, is hoping to fire up interest about the art in prospective midyears and other undergraduate students alike.

It seems unlikely that many millennials would opt for such a seemingly archaic art, given the opportunity to join clubs pertaining to new-age media like photography or liquid latex. Perhaps this is the reason the club has experienced much instability in membership in the past.

“The club maintained its life by the few who knew how it ran and who went out of their way to take care of it,” said Brittany Finney ’17. “But my sophomore year, when lots of people graduated or were studying abroad, the club was virtually gone, and I wanted to bring it back.”

In the past year, though, the group has noticed a flourish of new faces, partly thanks to an increase in advertisement by club leaders James Conlon ’16, Jack Holloman ’16, Marisa Rubel ’17 and Finney herself, and partly due to student interest in the only art that so adroitly combines both fashion and function. “Since then, we have more members than ever. The studio is much cleaner, and people know more about the club’s existence and are really excited to join in on the fun,” Finney said.

In addition to branching out to students, the club is extending its roots outside campus, incorporating professor-led demos into studio hours and having club members present their work in various art shows. Most exciting is the club’s newfound partnership with Babson University, with whom they had a partner lesson on making teapots just last semester. “It’s a great way to branch out with our community members,” said Finney. She hopes that the club’s current trend of success and recognition will continue long after she and other club leaders graduate and that it will not fall back to its previous dormancy.

Unlike a traditional course in the arts, the club gives members free roam of the craft, allowing students to hone their skills or learn entirely new ones in all areas of pottery. “Personally, I am a sculptor,” Finney explained. “I’m taking a class right now that goes into detail about bones, and I’m hoping to actually sculpt parts of our skeleton, just for fun.” In the past, Finney has created many animal-centric sculptures and firmly believes in the importance of combining similar or seemingly unrelated passions and attempting something new and exciting with them. “Clay is creation,” she said. “You turn a lump of a ball into something beautiful, like a dragon or like an intricate vase. I love that ability to say that I made something.” Having only discovered her passion for sculpting by accident after a fiasco at the spinning wheel in her high school ceramics class, Finney encourages students to attend a least one session, adding, “I hope other students can come in and find their own hidden talents, so long as they try.”

Offering hours daily at various times at their studio above the laundry room in Usen Castle Quad, the pottery club has made itself available to a variety of students who wish to dabble in ceramics. Just as the club allows members to explore all of the many techniques involved in pottery, it also encourages students of all experience levels to attend studio hours, even offering free guidance and hands-on lessons to beginners in the craft. “I hope to see more students come in to have some pottery lessons. It’s free and completely student-provided and Student Union funded,” assured Finney.

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