Samora's artistic passion provides a much needed break away from the challenges of running a big household. She lives on the border of Milpitas and San Jose with her husband and seven children aged between 10 and 21.
"I've always loved the fact that when I sit down at the wheel, it takes all of my concentration," Samora says. "I can't think of any stray thoughts. I have to become one with that clay. I have to be stable for it and watch it form."
Samora attends Higher Fire Clayspace in downtown San Jose sometimes as often as once a week. She's even taught some of her children to throw at the wheel so that they can cultivate a creative and therapeutic practice of working with clay. Samora calls her art form "clay therapy."
Listen to Samora's personal narrative about how she returned to pottery after a long absence and how the art form has changed her life:
Wanna learn to throw a pot?
"Working on the wheel takes people out of their daily routine," says Dan Dermer, who owns Higher Fire Clayspace, a pottery studio in Downtown San Jose's SOFA District. "You learn how to focus and concentrate."
In the last year, Dermer says, people have become pretty interested in handmade ceramics . And he's got a few tips for those who are ready to sink their hands into some clay, but haven't walked into the studio just yet.
1. Take the Leap: "Go ahead and try it, take a class," Dermer says. "A lot of people have trouble at first. But throwing clay is like any new skill, it only gets more fun if you stick with it."
2. Be Patient: "Initially she wasn't doing very well on the wheel and was frustrated," Dermer says of one of his students. "I sat down with her and we did a tune up." Teacher and student worked on some of the basics like centering the clay (moving the clay to the middle of the wheel head so you can throw it), using just the right amount of water, and pulling up the wall (that's when you raise up the sides of the clay using your hands). "After that tune up, she went on to make close to 100 pieces for Thanksgiving dinner at a homeless shelter," Dermer says.
3. Practice, practice, practice: "When you practice, you slowly get familiar with the material, how much water to use, where your hands need to be and what details you need to pay attention to," Dermer says. "You might throw 25 to 30 bowls but only take home 10."
Feeling inspired? Here are some places in the Bay Area where you can learn how to throw your own pot.
Higher Fire Clayspace and Gallery, San Jose
A teaching studio and ceramics gallery in Downtown San Jose's SOFA District.
The Crucible, Oakland
For serious makers. This place offers a wide array of classes in the industrial arts, including ceramics.
The Potter's Studio, Berkeley
Provides ceramics trainings for serious artists such as how to fire electric and gas kilns and how to mix glazes
The Clay Underground, San Francisco
Where pros and amateurs intermingle. Offers plenty of intro classes, plus a BYOB Friday night clay sesh that's open to all levels.
sfclayworks, San Francisco
A communal place to make art with classes and private studios. Started by a group of clay artists from the former San Francisco art space, The Clay Studio.
Mill Valley Potter's Studio, Mill Valley
Offers a wide range of classes for adults, youth, and families as well as workshops taught by guest artists.