Clay leaves

Clay Bodies and Massage

clay vesselturtle-bowl


Toni Muirhead's clay art work

Clay Body: the word that potters use to describe a particular mixture of clay.  Some examples of clay bodies are stoneware body and porcelain body. Practice Solutions for Potters 100s of Your Top Questions With 1000s Practical Solutions, Gill Bliss
When potters decide on the type of clay body  they must know about the firing temperature for the clay, will the clay be coarse or fine, will the clay be thrown on a wheel or carved. Understanding the clay body’s durability, shrinkage rate, workability must be a factor to the potter.  The clay body  has to match the glazing desires for the finished piece.  From beginning to final process there are so many rules to follow to produce a beautiful work of art.   A photo, memory or idea of the finished project becomes a permanent reminder that you can touch and feel for a lifetime.  
Massage is similar. People are different and their needs are different.  When a Massage Therapist has a clear understanding of massage during treatment for cancer, each patient can take from the massage what they need the most.  The intent to help a patient must be balanced with knowledge.  It is only then that the healing art of massage is possible and patients can count on MassageTherapists to offer safe compassionate care.
As a potter  I understand the importance  to understand what I can do and not do to make a perfect sculpture.  Likewise as a Massage Therapist I must know medical protocals  for special medical conditions and only after that the creative aspects of a healing massage can be achieved.


                                         Unbroken Spirit  

 After beautifully trimming the bottom of my treasured bowl, I tried to pick it up by the thin, delicate top.
And I crushed it.
So sad, I turned my damaged bowl right side up.
The perfect, even and graceful rim was now broken
Unevenly with jagged edges.
I thought, I will glue the little pieces on.
But then, an angel stepped in.
He showed me, among his “perfect” pots,
one pot with a broken edge-
having a place, just as visible as the rest.
The rough edges were uneven and gentle
and added a character to the pot than none others had.
I thought of my imperfect, invaded and scarred body
and feeling like the injured and beautiful pot,
I felt like crying.
It wasn’t clear then why.
All I knew was, when I looked at my broken bowl again.
I wanted to keep it, just as it was.

   Wendy Kochenthal,  IN LOVE WITH WORDS &CLAY
16 Rainbow Ridge Lane, Swannanoa, NC  28778 (printed with permission)

We are all Clay Bodies

 Be present:   When I sit at my wheel everything else is out of my mind, but the pot to throw.  Find bliss in the moment and empty your mind of the past and future

Find your center:  A ball of clay must spin perfectly on a wheel, not being centered results in a clumsy off kiltered, jolting movement for the potter.  When we aren’t centered in our bodies, our weight not evenly distributed, it causes an imbalance that has a domino effect felt throughout our bodies.

Know when to stop:  After centering your clay you must open the ball, going down too deep creates a thin bottom is a wasted effort.  Practice does make perfect, haste makes waste and all those other clichés your mom was right about. Similar to focusing on the Serenity Prayer throughout you day. Know what you can do, what you can’t and the wisdom to stop, back away, refrain, refocus and move on.

Acknowledge impurities:  The potter must feel for particles in the clay that could cause flaws, create weakness, and damage the end product.  Taking time each day to recognize for signs of muscle tightness and fatigue helps you to know your body.  Pushing on and ignoring pain will cause you injury down the road.

Improvise your imperfections:  A damaged pot is just the opportunity to create a unique work of art.  We all come with imperfections that can help us achieve our greatest moments. Accept, celebrate and be kind to yourself. And treat your clients as awesome survivors who do well with the imperfections of their bodies.

Create your dreams:  To design a beautiful pot develops your sense of play and creativity.  Be creative.  Strive to reach your dreams. Never give up, but sometimes you need to step back, regroup, redirect your energies so that you are not pounding on concrete with your bare hands.

Be smart: Never use low fire clay in a high fire kiln. Never fire a pot before it is ready.   Never open a kiln until it is cooled.  Never use the wrong glaze.  So many rules to follow. There are some rules that can be broken and some that can’t.    Cause and effect happens. Life is harder when we don’t learn from our mistakes.  As imperfect beings we do so make the same mistakes over and over again until we do our own 12 steps of move on and let go.

Recognize beauty:   Fill your world with your creations.  Delight in your works of art for yourself and others. Take time to look around and see all that you have been apart of and celebrate your life; the grandchild running to you, the glorius sunset, the reflection of the bird flying across the pond, the smell of fresh cut flowers.  Participating in a survivor event and watching 700 woman dance to “I Will Survive” is a canvas of strength and beauty.

Glazes are personal choices.  Some people create pots that are rainbows of colors, others love pots that are soft and subdued.  We are all unique with our special talents, thoughts and beliefs.

Balance your life:   A 3-legged stool offers the strongest support.  We must nurture our mind, bodies and spiritual lives to feel that sense of balance we all strive for.

Give thanks to the Fire-God:  When all is done, your pot goes in the kiln and what will be, will be.  Everyday give thanks and gratitude for the god within you.

Celebrate your achievement:  To take a piece of clay and go through the wedging, throwing, designing, glazing and firing process and create a beautiful finished produce is an achievement.  Especially when you consider what can go wrong during the entire process.  So when all is said and done make a difference where you can.  In your heart, acknowledge the good you have done.  -Toni Muirhead, LMT

During the transistion to our new home and work, I found a studio and created.  It was obvious that I missed massaging bodies and put all that energy into claybodies.

clay bodies

leaf handslizard carcass