The Pied Potter leads lesson on clay at the library

May 14, 2023

MIDDLEBORO — “Get a sense of humor.”

That’s pottery advice — and perhaps life advice — from Rick Hamelin, also known as the Pied Potter, who taught two classes at the Middleboro Public Library on Saturday, May 13.

Hamelin taught a class for adults in the morning which gave attendees a chance to make a teacup and learn about the history of pottery, particularly to how clay teapots have united people across cultures.

In the afternoon, Hamelin taught a class for ages 11-18 called “Fantasy Clay Figures,” where he instructed the class on how multiple clay parts can come together to make an intricate figure.

Both programs were sponsored by the Middleboro Cultural Council with support from Friends of the Middleboro Public Library.

The young students put their newfound knowledge to the test when they made clay dragons under Hamelin’s direction.

Hamelin said he got his inspiration for the dragons from a student who once asked him to make a complicated, multi-faceted figure. He said he had to break the figure down into small parts in his mind before tackling the project piece by piece.

He instructed his students on Saturday to take the same approach.

“Be sure to use your imagination” when working with clay, Hamelin said. “You never know what you can end up with even when you think you messed up.”

To begin the class, Hamelin demonstrated how to use a pottery wheel while telling the audience about his time learning the craft in school, and later teaching it to the next generation. 

The Pied Potter also told the attendees about how most pieces of pottery start from one of three base figures: A cylinder, a bowl, or a flat piece of clay.

The students then made cylinders by themselves before creating smaller pieces to attach to the base piece, forming a dragon.

Over the course of his time working with clay, Hamelin said he has learned that some rules are made to be broken. When watching fellow potters on YouTube, he has seen artists succeed in using techniques that teachers told him to stay away from.

That’s why he focuses on having fun when he puts clay on a pottery wheel.

“Clay puts a smile on your face,” Hamelin said. So if you mess up, “get a sense of humor and get another piece of clay.”