After slipping a wire through a damp block of white stoneware clay, Caroline Lowe ’12 shapes it into a ball and drops it onto the pottery wheel. “The most important thing is staying centered,” she says, working carefully. Although she is speaking about technique, her pottery time is also meditative. “It’s really relaxing, and it allows me to be creative in a different way than academics … I like to just forget about everything.”

Deborah Gehrke, Co-Master of Quincy House, explains the sense of balance produced by spinning pots at the Mimi Aloian Pottery Studio. “I like the art aspect — that they’re using the other side of their brains. They can relax and use their hands, and get a sense of feel of something other than a pencil or a computer. We open the event to all the Houses, so it brings people here: We are the people’s House.” Since the early ’90s, students have added to the archive of pots, vases, and sculptures displayed in the studio with the hope of inspiring future students. Former studio director Jack Cen ’10 donated a lizard-green glazed teapot, complete with a hippo head spout and bamboo handle.

During a studio class, Hunter Richard ’12 accelerates his wheel. The edges of his bowl wobble and collapse into the shape of a clay dumpling. After struggling to keep the walls of the bowl straight, he adds water and flattens the clay into a plate.

Studio director William Murphy ’13 offers words of consolation about the creative process. “I have found that frustrations and stress will always make their way into my piece,” he said. “In order to create something worth keeping, I have to slow down, calm down, and take my time to be steady on the potter’s wheel — a mindset I rarely inhabit during normal Harvard life.”

Handiwork

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

  • Caroline Lowe 12 works in the Quincy House pottery studio.

    Caroline Lowe '12 works in the Quincy House pottery studio.

  • This ball of clay could turn into anything.

    This ball of clay could turn into anything.

  • Will Murphy 13 (center, right) teaches fellow residents how to work the pottery wheel.

    Will Murphy '13 (center, right) teaches fellow residents how to work the pottery wheel.

  • A bare foot rests on a pedal for a pottery wheel.

    A bare foot rests on a pedal for a pottery wheel.

  • Will Murphy 13 helps Karen Zhou 14.

    Will Murphy '13 helps Karen Zhou '14.

  • Clay gets shaped on the pottery wheel.

    Clay gets shaped on the pottery wheel.

  • Caroline Lowe 12 (blue headband) teaches in the Quincy House pottery studio while Karen Zhou 14 (from left), affiliate resident Kristin Foster, and Quincy House tutor Christine Ruth Watterson work at the wheel.

    Caroline Lowe '12 (blue headband) teaches in the Quincy House pottery studio while Karen Zhou '14 (from left), affiliate resident Kristin Foster, and Quincy House tutor Christine Ruth Watterson work at the wheel.

  • A bowl is fashioned at the Quincy House pottery studio.

    A bowl is fashioned at the Quincy House pottery studio.

  • Caroline Lowe 12 (left) and Sarah Reilly 14 work at the wheel together, while instructor Will Murphy 13 looks on.

    Caroline Lowe '12 (left) and Sarah Reilly '14 work at the wheel together, while instructor Will Murphy '13 looks on.

  • Will Murphy 13 shows some pottery examples to Hunter Richard 12 (from left), Quincy House Co-Master Deborah Gehrke, and Caroline Lowe 12.

    Will Murphy '13 shows some pottery examples to Hunter Richard '12 (from left), Quincy House Co-Master Deborah Gehrke, and Caroline Lowe '12.

  • Wet and muddy hands produce a cup.

    Wet and muddy hands produce a cup.

  • Hunter Richard 12 (left) and Sarah Reilly 14 have clean-up duty.

    Hunter Richard '12 (left) and Sarah Reilly '14 have clean-up duty.