Campus & Community

A look inside: Quincy House

3 min read

Staying centered in making pottery

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.”