Treasure in jars of clay: pottery and the work of Restore.

Hands crafting a vase on a potter's wheel

There has been a lot of pottery themed activity at Restore the last few months: Hannah brought her potter’s wheel in to give a demo and taster session to a group of residents in early March, and Doe Bakehouse have kindly agreed to donate to Restore whenever anyone choses to paint a mini mug in their Layerthorpe pottery café. If you’re interested in popping down and having go, you can book via their website here.

If you’ve ever had a go on a potter’s wheel, you’ll know that it’s a lot harder than it looks! Prepping the clay for use takes effort; centring the clay on the wheel takes practice; manipulating the clay requires a firm, steady hand, and one wrong touch can destroy the whole creation. Knowing how much pressure to apply, how fast to spin the wheel, how much water to use, what part of your hand to employ to create the desired shape; all of these are skills learnt by the potter over many years of practise, in order to perfect their craft.

hand thrown pots dryingOne of the rewarding parts of working at Restore is seeing the difference we’re able to make in people’s lives. After Hannah’s recent pottery demonstration, all the pots thrown on the wheel by our residents were lined up on a desk to dry. Some of them are pictured here on the right. As you can see, no two were the same. Similar shapes and sizes perhaps, but each one individual. The same can be said of our residents: all receive the same support and care from the team here at Restore, but in each individual, that support and care produces unique results.

Many of our residents come to us because they feel as though life has spun out of control and they’ve lost their way.  Any potter will know the feeling of taking a piece of clay too far and having it collapse on the wheel. At Restore we see part of our role as helping people ‘recentre’ their clay on the wheel (or get their life back under control, to put it more simply). One former Restore resident recently said the following about how he perceives the negative moments that have happened in his life:

Even when you’re down in the dumps be grateful for it, because sometimes that builds you up and that’s what you learn from. It will make you the better person to go out and do great things …. it gives me hope. (GS Feb 2023)

hands shaping clay on a potter's wheelFor me, all this talk of pottery brings to mind the words in the Bible, in the book of Isaiah, chapter 64 verse 8, which says “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” I find the idea of God as a master craftsman immensely comforting: just as a skilled potter can take something as plain as a lump of clay and make something that is not only useful, but also beautiful, so God can take a human being and craft them into something can be used by Him to bring the message of His hope, love and faithfulness to a world in need. He has been shaping human lives with an expert touch for millennia. And – not unlike clay – sometimes we need a firm hand to guide us into shape. Many of our former residents remark on how they feel like they were brought to Restore ‘for a reason,’ and that the time they spent with us has helped to shape them into who they were meant to be. We like to think it is God who has guided them to us, and it is His expert potter’s hand that is shaping their lives.


If you would like to know more about the work we do, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. You can also sign up for our monthly newsletter. If you would like to support our work financially, please donate here. Thank you.