Can pottery be therapy? This psychology student thinks so.

The Create ceramics studio in Boston’s Roslindale neighborhood is a tapestry of gentle, sturdy neutrals. Earthenware pots, bowls and teacups awaiting paint jobs rest on light gray shelves; white drop cloths and stone potter’s wheels take up most of the wood floor, all of it bathed in low afternoon sunlight gushing through storefront windows. But at the center of the space, David Chatson is focused on something small, slimy and black.

The previous weekend, the Northeastern University psychology major and a few friends took a drive to Wells Beach in Maine. There, mucking around the rocky tide pools, they were delighted to discover a natural clay deposit, which they scooped up and brought back to Boston. Now Alyssa Franczak, a computer science and game design major, plops the lump on a wheel, struggling to coax it into a shape while the small group of Northeastern students assembled for their weekly pottery session looks on.

“It’s too soft,” Franczak sighs as the walls of the cylinder she’s formed buckle. Even so, she’s clearly enjoying getting her hands dirty. “I sit in front of a screen all day for my major, so this is a nice break,” she says.

After a while, Franczak shakily works the mound into a small bowl, but she and Chatson eventually decide it needs to dry out for another week. This type of experimentation — and failure — is one of the many delights Chatson, 22, finds in making pottery, which he’s been doing in earnest since his early teens. “I find it extremely cathartic,” he says in an interview. “It’s the one thing that’s always kept me grounded — taking that time to only focus on what’s directly in front of you. We don’t always get an opportunity to do that.”

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Photo by Alyssa Stone