A collection of finished clay cups

Halfweek Habit #7 Building a Community from Clay

This week ceramicist Jacqueline Clark describes her Make a Cup project that has brought enrichment and creativity to her local community during lockdown.

“I set the Make a Cup project up just as the country was going into lockdown as a response to the social isolation that people were starting to feel. It was really about helping others to build a lifelong habit which is also good for mental health and wellbeing. Also, it was about helping people to re-ignite their connection with clay.

I started by putting a basket of clay parcels all packed up with instructions with a link to my ‘how to’ video outside my studio. Before I knew it I’d given out over 100 parcels! People of all ages in the community near my studio in Penpol near Devoran were so excited about making their own cups by hand. The youngest participant was 18 months old, the oldest was 89.

Lots of people said they had worked with clay many years before at school and there was a real eagerness to engage in the practice. People were so keen, they responded well to me making a positive step to bring the community together, they enjoyed feeling that they were part of a bigger project. They were not just making something out of clay – they were making something to use, responding to a brief that extended from my practice which made them think about the everyday objects they use and the value we put into the material world.

I’ve always enjoyed working creatively with communities. I’m a part-time learning and participation officer at the Leach Pottery in St Ives and so work life has always been central to my role. Projects include those organised as part of the Centenary at Leach Pottery with school children, community groups and families and with the Sensory Trust, working with people who live with dementia, going on walks and helping them engage with nature and ceramics. Having been furloughed, I wanted to find a safe and positive way of engaging people with a project in my own community from my Creekside studio. I could clearly see the benefits that making with clay could bring to others. Older people being shielded, children being home-schooled and parents looking for fun and meaningful projects that the whole family could engage in – it seemed like a valuable project to initiate.

When restrictions lift I’m really looking forward to the galleries re-opening and re-engaging with the arts community in Cornwall more broadly through fairs and creative events. We, as artists, rely on galleries both for inspiration and to help us sell our work. In Cornwall we are lucky to have a wonderful large and diverse range of galleries both public and independent.

I hope that our community’s engagement with pottery will be a lasting legacy from lockdown and that other craft makers will be inspired to share their practice.  As well as the mental health benefits, it’s about finding enjoyment in clay and supporting Cornwall’s creative industries.”

If you would like to learn more about Jacqueline’s work or if you are interested in any of her courses please visit the links below:

Instagram: @JacquelineClarkCeramics


To see more Halfweek Habits from Cornwall 365 visit the blog here.


Potter Jacqueline Clark

Jacqueline Clark

Jacqueline Clark is a potter living and working in Cornwall. Her practice in thrown and hand-built work is informed by the landscape around her and the techniques and heritage of modern studio ceramics. She is currently a Learning and Participation Officer at the Leach Pottery in St Ives and runs pottery courses from her studio in Penpol.

Creative Kernow, based at Krowji, is the umbrella organisation for the following nine projects. Together we support the production, promotion and distribution of work by creative practitioners in Cornwall because we believe in creativity's transformative power and want more people to benefit from it.
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