Abu Dhabi pottery courses

Where to mould some clay in the capital 17 Comments

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Having been getting her hands dirty for 20 years, Abu Dhabi Pottery’s Homa Farley knows a thing or two about pots. Having been known to knock back up to seven cups of the stuff on a busy deadline day, Time Out Abu Dhabi’s David Clack knows a thing or two about coffee. Eager for a spangly new vessel for his favourite brew, our man cracked his knuckles, strapped on an apron and sat down for an hour-long lesson at Homa’s Khalidiyah workshop.

Fancy crafting your very own ceramic masterpiece? Follow our step-by-step guide and you too could very soon have a coffee cup, vase or toothbrush holder to be proud of.

Step one: Make a hole

‘Before you begin,’ explains Homa, ‘You need to make your clay as round as possible.’ She slaps a lump of the stuff between her palms with wince-inducing force, before presenting us with something vaguely resembling a giant Malteser. We’re instructed to plunge our thumb into the top of our brown ball, being careful not to skewer it all the way through. Homa seems confident that in just a few minutes, we’ll have something resembling a pot. Recalling the time when we were scolded by our playschool teacher for eating our lump of Play-Doh, we’re not so sure.

Step two: Start pinching

Next, Homa shows us how to hollow out our mug. We put our thumb inside the hole, our fingers on the outside surface and gently pinch the sides, rotating the clay and repeating until it starts to take a more concave shape. ‘The most important thing when making anything out of clay is to make sure everything is the same wetness and the same thickness,’ she explains, instructing us to carry out a second round of pinching, this time applying gentle pressure to large lumps to ensure the sides of our mug are of even thickness. Only this time, we have to close our eyes. ‘Blind people tend to do really well at pottery,’ Homa tells us, and, as we gingerly feel our way around our fleshed-out mug, it’s easy to see why.

Step three: Make it smooth

Next up, a little low-intensity sculpting. Homa hands us a ‘kidney’ – a thin, curved, rubber implement used to smooth over the dents our sausage-like digits have left in the clay’s surface. We’re also handed a brush and a tub of slip; a mixture of clay and water that looks a little like melted chocolate. ‘Clay starts to get dry as you handle it, so brushing a little slip on any dry and cracked bits stops it from cracking any further,’ say Homa, as we delicately touch up the rim of our by now rather handsome vessel.

Step four: Make a design

With the shape of our mug looking good, it’s time to add a personal touch. Picking up a wooden skewer, we get to work on our design of choice – the classic Time Out logo, as seen on newsstands since 1968. Not particularly tricky to reproduce, except that, in the interest of not distorting the shape of our mug, we have to do it upside down. There’s a moment of panic when we realise we’ve not left enough space for the
‘i’ in Abu Dhabi, but with a swift bit of stick work we re-smooth the surface of our clay and have another crack at it.

Step five: Craft a handle

While she explains that there are several options when it comes to fashioning a handle, Homa shows us a method that will make it as structurally sound as possible. Which, given that we like a lot of tea, is just as well. Using plenty of water, we slowly pull down on a long sausage of clay, stretching the piece thinner and reinforcing the clay’s molecular structure. ‘It’s a lot like milking a cow,’ Homa tells us. ‘Or a camel.’ Next, we score hash marks into the ends of the handle, and also into the surface of the mug where we want to attach it, apply slip to both, and then carefully press the handle into place. Then, with a thin coil of clay, we reinforce the joint, smooth it over once more with our kidney, sit back and admire our handiwork.

Homa hosts pottery building and throwing classes every Saturday, 4.30pm-6pm for children and adults, and 6pm-7.30pm for adults only, with the same classes on Sunday, plus an additional 10.30am-noon session. Each session is priced at Dhs150, or Dhs480 for four weeks of classes. Abu Dhabi Pottery is located on 16th Street, opposite Khalidiyah Garden. Call 02 666 7079 for more information.

By David Clack
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

User reviews:

Posted by: karen on 05 Jun ' 11 at 08:42

Homa's talent is only exceeded by her extraordinary heart!
She is the truest of teachers - not only in pottery - but life, laughter and love. I count her as one of the greatest blessings of living in the UAE.

Posted by: Maha Shahid on 24 May ' 11 at 11:45

Homa is a great inspiratyon for me. I always look forward to see her. I go only on Sunday but I wait impatiently for the rest of the week that Sunday come and I will go for my class. Homa is such an adorable and loving person. I have so much affection and respect for her. I have learnt so much from her not only pottery making but also learned how to be strong enough to deal with the surroundings. Homa you are great. I will never leave you. I love you for all you care for me.
Maha xx

Posted by: Homa Farley on 24 May ' 11 at 10:52

Thanks to all my lovely students/friends for making such wonderful comments. I am the lucky one as I am doing what I love ;Teaching and Pottery.You all inspire me and it is a pleasure for me to teach you.

Posted by: May Harvey on 23 May ' 11 at 19:40

Homa Farley is a wonderful pottery teacher who has the patient's of a saint, always willing to teach us her knowlege and idea's. Could not ask for a better teacher. Just wonderful & exciting to be able to make something from scratch and see the finish at the end.

Posted by: Leila on 23 May ' 11 at 17:57

"What is a teacher? I'll tell you: it isn't someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows."(paolo coelho) and homa is a real teacher.
We are all lucky to have you and thank you for being there for us.

Posted by: mubarakka nandi on 22 May ' 11 at 04:28

its a dream come true for me to learn pottery and homa is the best teacher, i could not have asked for a better teacher...a teacher who is willing to share all the knowledge she has....one can never stop learning pottery and specially if your under homa....its an addiction...super classes i recommend all to join....

Posted by: Maureen Mullen on 19 May ' 11 at 17:04

Would be lovely to hear from you Homa. I am glad everything in the pottery world is still the marvellous handling workmanship it has always been a special feel to handle. . I only drink coffee from your beautiful little cups I purchased from you in Abu Dhabi. In fact I wish I had purchased at least 2 more. They never leave any caffeine stains/ shadows about the interior of the cup and are the perfect partner to accompany a good taste of coffee. I trust you are keeping fine and send my love as always.Maureen

Posted by: Peter Farley on 17 May ' 11 at 22:00

As Homa Farley's son I have seen her passion for pottery and her dedication to her students first hand.

The love that she portrays in her art is true and unlike most artists in the world today.

Posted by: Maya Babu on 17 May ' 11 at 12:47

Homa is the most precious gift for we art lovers.
It is great fun with her at the workshop. We are proud to have you as our teacher.

Posted by: Ann Wilson on 16 May ' 11 at 15:06

Abu Dhabi Pottery Studio is the gathering place for people from all over the world who attend Homas ' classes to learn and experience the art of pottery.
Homa is a Passionate Potter, Terrific Teacher, an Awesome Artist and an Excellent Entrepeneur who zips around her studio giving every student attentive time and encouragement while he or she learns this fun and therapeutic activity.
The studio also has a Gallery of Homas' work - beautiful collection!!!
Whilst learning and having fun students also enjoy tea, coffee and snacks.
Oh I forgot to say everything you need to play with clay is laid out for you.
I have moved to another country and MISS my Teacher and Pottery Pals .......

Posted by: Kathryn Quade on 15 May ' 11 at 17:25

Abu Dhabi Pottery is the most wonderful, welcoming, and nurturing.studio. Homa is a most gifted teacher, giving technical advice and friendly encouragement with twenty year's experience and humor. If you ever thought you might enjoy pottery, this creative environment has to be experienced.
Please check out Abu Dhabi Pottery website for further information:

Posted by: Karen See on 14 May ' 11 at 12:24

Homa is the Best pottery teacher that I have known. I get lost seeing Homa creating her pots and her hands and the clay acts like husband and wife in unity. It is great fun to be learning pottery under Homa and it is very therapeutic !!

One must try it and you will understand what I mean....

Posted by: Kitty on 13 May ' 11 at 13:55

A snappy summary of the pottery process chez Homa. I like the crisp clear approach, but we know there is also a lot of fun dispensed between each step. Dave is a very focused student, it seems. I could do with some of this caliber. Then again, when you have a teacher like Homa, success is guaranteed.
Continued Good Luck to Homa and Abu Dhabi Pottery.


Posted by: Iraj on 13 May ' 11 at 07:15

persian art is proud of you as long as i live i am proud of you .i dont have the ability to description your artist hands and creation of art....
yours student

Posted by: carolyn morton on 13 May ' 11 at 07:08

Would advise anyone interested in Pottery to take a look at Homa's wonderful and inspirational pots. The chance of someone of this calibre to learn from here should not be missed!

Posted by: Lilian Crossley on 12 May ' 11 at 16:49

I have spent many happy hours at the pottery - Homa isn a great teacher and inspires her students with confidence in their creativity.

Posted by: ALIA ALSUWAIDI on 12 May ' 11 at 06:44

Abu Dhabi pottery is the best place to experience the beauty of creating your own pot. Homa the owner of the company is very cooperative and her team was helpful during our session.

I am planning to go for more classes in the near future inshalla

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