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THE MESS WE MADE

Alabang, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, Philippines
I have always been curious of the process behind wheel throwing, hand sculpting, and producing hand made ceramic pieces ever since I studied it for History of Design in college. Pottery has a long, romantic, and bittersweet history and it has been passed on from generation to generation. The first time I tried my hand at pottery was while I was travelling in Bat Trang Pottery Village in Hanoi with my husband. In this class that we took together, we learned the elementary basics of wheel throwing ceramics and we were able to create our very own pieces. That experience has taught both my husband and I the value of craftsmanship, it's not something that can be done overnight, it takes time for you to get the output of your handiwork. When we got back, I promised myself to make time to enroll for a formal pottery class but to no avail. time and schedules have beaten me.

When I heard about Mess We Made Manila opening up a studio just around my area earlier this year, I really took the opportunity to sign up for a one-day class. Since we haven't really been on any travels or adventures since the pandemic has hit us last year, I thought about using this as an opportunity for both my husband and me to have some sort of creative outlet whilst learning something new. 
Photograph from Mess We Made Euljiro's Website
MWM Manila is a franchise of Korean Ceramic studio, Mess We Made. I have been following their studio on Instagram because of their colorful and quirky technique in making pottery. Contrary to our usual notion of the practice of pottery where everything is carefully sculpted by hand, MWM's technique welcomes the idea of playfulness, imagination, and child-like character. If you would take a look at their works and their student's works, the common theme or inspiration would be nature and adventure. I truly love the studio's manifesto as it encourages and allows their students to let go of their constructed biases and encourage the idea of spontaneity - rejecting the fear of making mistakes and the anxiety of creating something not appealing enough. I love that their technique respects the true essence of humanity - random, messy, unique, and beautiful all at the same time.

One of the reasons why I was excited to sign up for the class was because it was a completely different technique in pottery. This time around, MWM Manila was offering a hand-building marbling class. It's far from what we've previously learned from the wheel and I initially thought it was easier since our hands are in full control this time around (internally laughs at myself for thinking this!).
Our class was facilitated by MWM Manila's head, Shine. Since we are in the middle of a pandemic, the one-day class only has 4 slots in order to observe social distance protocols. I personally thought that this number is such an advantage especially for those who really want to learn and keep asking questions. Shine was a very patient and fun instructor, she would often remind us to just keep making and not be afraid to commit errors in the process which I think was great. 
Before we were given a chance to work individually, Shine gave us a complete run-through of the different techniques of hand-building ceramics. From marbling, to confetti, to painting from clay, up to the very last touch of stamping our works, Shine graciously extended her knowledge to us.
Everything was provided for in the class - the colored clays, the rolling pins, cutting tools, sponge, weighing scale, the molds and even snacks. My husband and I decided to gift each other with our works, and so we thought about how we can incorporate the things that we liked in the pieces we will be creating. We were asked to make 3 pieces that day - a plate, saucer, and a bowl. Dennis decided to go for things that I liked: Camellias from Jeju Island, Pink Elephants, and the texture of marble itself. I went for minimal approach while going for my husband's favorite color - which was blue. We both decided to incorporate the 3 different techniques that we learned that day: the Marbling, Clay Painting, and Confetti techniques respectively.
I honestly thought that hand-building was easy, given that the clay were already colored, one would initially think that creating a pattern would be a breeze. But that was actually the complete opposite from my experience! I initially wanted to make a plate with the landscape of mountains and silhouette of trees, but I had a really hard time controlling the thickness of my clay ;(. Drawing with clay is not easy, it requires a lot of balance and accuracy in scale, I also think that it takes a of time too. So if I was given another chance to do this, I definitely know now how to set my expectations and control the patterns that I'll be making.
Two weeks after the class, our products were ready for pick-up. I remember us being really excited to see the outcome of our works! The feeling is indeed both scary and rewarding at the same time. This class totally taught me to let go creatively and let my instincts take place, it also taught me to forgive myself and be more gentle in setting expectations. 
Left side shows Dennis' work, right shows mine

Some takeaways from the class and the whole experience:
1. We're all like clay, we need time to be molded and formed. But we must also know who to allow in and out of our lives to "mold us" or help us to "shape up".
2. Hand-building pottery is not easy, nothing is easy. Everything needs time and effort.
3. Always be proud of your progress, regardless if it's what you expected or not. It's still progress.
4. Welcome flaws, nothing in life comes perfect in an instant. Forgive yourself for it.
5. Don't loose the child in you, don't be too serious! Always have that child-like imagination and energy where every little thing is appreciated and everything matters.

At the end of the day, the mess we made created another layer of story in our relationship and another batch of objects we can use a place in our room. The mess we made is yet another story to tell, a conversation to share with the ones who see it.
MESS WE MADE MANILA
Classes
2F Southbank Café + Lounge,
Westgate Center, Alabang, Muntinlupa

Private Workspace
2F LCV Business Center, San Pedro Laguna

Follow them on INSTAGRAM

Wishing you and the rest of your family a safe, healthy, peaceful, Happy Heyday!

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Comments

  1. It looks like you had such a great time and the final products are amazing! I have done a bit of pottery while in school and truly miss working with it, it's just a great creative tool! It's not as easy as they make it look, but so rewarding! Thanks for sharing x

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  2. This looks like so much fun and something I've always wanted to do! I love what you made, lovely choice in colours. Perfect title for a studio too :)

    Anika | chaptersofmay.com

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  3. Oh wow this looks so fun! And a great creative outlet. My friend is a potter and she even teaches classes. Her studio on Etsy is called IndigoBird if you are curious and this came out great!!

    Allie of
    www.allienyc.com

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  4. Wow, this sounds so much fun! You know you are going to enjoy something if it is going to be messy. I love your designs, you did a great job. It seems easy but it is not and you definitely should be proud of yourself for this. Truly beautiful. :)

    Inna | https://thedaiilysunlight.blogspot.com

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  5. What a fun class! And I love the pieces you made - you both did really well for the first time trying out this technique! :)

    Hope you're having a good weekend :)

    Away From The Blue

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  6. Beautiful and a great skill to learn during the pandemic. We used to have a kiln and took classes when I was young but I'd love to get back to making ceramics. Thanks for sharing. <3
    FASHION TALES

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  7. Loving your blog theme! I want to try this, looks so much fun! I enjoyed reading your experience and lessons. Thanks for sharing!


    www.lifebeginsattwenty.com

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