Paula Tutman: How learning ceramics helped me creatively cope with COVID

4-part series documents my ceramics journey

Paula Tutman's ceramics series, Part 1. (Paula Tutman)

As a broadcast journalist for nearly 40 years (yes, I started when I was 6 months old), eight of those years as a police reporter whose daily diet was heavily dosed with crime and mayhem, I have learned to roll with the punches.

My skin is pretty darned thick. But COVID-19 turned out to be my most formidable foe.

For the first 365 days of the pandemic, I reported stories on nothing but the pandemic. It’s hard to believe we are rounding the corner for year two and moving into year three. There has not been a single solitary day that I didn’t say the word Covid—even during my off-time, in which I most often still worked. Some of the deaths I’ve covered have been people I personally knew. It has been daunting, stressful, depressing and isolating.

I needed an outlet. I needed something therapeutic to keep my hands and brain busy to steal me away from the pressure cooker. And so, I dove into the fire to cool things off. In December of 2020 (much to the horror of my husband who is a fire chief) I purchased a kiln and decided to learn ceramics.

What I found out is—I loooove clay. I’m not great at it, but it doesn’t matter. I love it.

It turns out that for me, clay has incredible healing properties. I get lost in the process. I come up with an idea and spend a weekend figuring out how to pull it off. I love that my friends are excited to get gifts of my ugly ceramics and I just love playing, experimenting, creating and yes—even failing can be fun when you’re hands are wrapped around a simple lump of clay.

Ceramics have become my personal Creative Covid Stress Relief Program.

A year into my therapeutic clay-play, I decided to take on a mammoth project. I decided to create a ceramic fireplace surround for our cottage. My husband’s only request was that I tell a story of “us” with the tiles. I have been documenting the process. This is my journey.

This four-part series shares the personal and private story of me, my new friend, clay, and my individual journey to find healing at a time when so many things hurt when you’re a journalist.

Hopefully you’ll be inspired to find your own creative therapy. I’d love to hear your stories, too.

(Paula’s ceramics series is for WDIV Insiders, click here to check it out)

What creative ways have you found to cope with pandemic life?

About the Author:

Paula Tutman is an Emmy award-winning journalist who came to Local 4 in 1992. She's a Peace Corps alum who spent her early childhood living in Sierra Leone, West Africa and Tanzania and East Africa.