When faced with a lump of clay, it can be hard to imagine it turning into anything else, let alone something beautiful and useful. And often, at the beginning of a recovery journey, it is equally difficult to look at an addicted life and see the beauty that lies inside it. Sojourner House has partnered with with Union Project to give women in recovery a place to channel their emotions and create beautiful things as a part of their recovery journey.
Once a month, residents of Sojourner House go to Union Project and learn about clay making. On these Friday mornings, the residents, without their children, find themselves in a space where they can focus on themselves. “I think the women in the program really appreciate having this space as a creative outlet. It’s a time for them to bond with each other and grow social connections. There have even been some relational challenges that we can work through in the group.” explains Milo Berezin, Arts Education Coordinator for Union Project.
One resident said that she likes it because she gets to make something from nothing. And much like recovery, the projects they’re making takes a lot of time and many steps. “Finishing a clay project is not immediate. It takes several stages. You do some work, then it dries for a week, then it’s fired and then you do some more work.” says Milo.
Clay is a great medium for the women to work with. “I think clay itself is just a really useful tool for cultivating skills that are valuable in all areas of life. Clay really requires some frustration tolerance. So that’s a skill that can be practiced in a safe space where you have the ability to fail, try again, improve and grow.” says Milo.
Over the years, the women have created beads and pendants for jewelry, functional items like mugs, plates, and bowls, or more decorative items such as ornaments or wall plaques. One resident made a flower pot and was able to transplant her recovery plant into the new pot, creating a lasting reminder of her own growth.