A potter's wheel can be incredibly sexy: Think of Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in "Ghost." But making ceramics can also be a fun and relaxing diversion.

When Julia Sinisi, 73, wants to fuel her creative drive, she heads to Island Pottery Studio, not far from her Mineola home.

"I absolutely love it," says Sinisi, who often finds herself contemplating how she'll finish the bowl, dish, cup, or vase she's working on -- and what kind of piece she might make next. "It keeps your mind going."

Paul Merkelson, a student for the past four years at Haven Art Studio in Port Washington, loves being involved in an art form that's been around for thousands of years.

"I like the process of making things with my hands," the Port Washington resident says. He makes usable items -- vases, dishes, pitchers -- many of which he gives as gifts or donates to charity. "It's very hands-on, tactile. It's a good right-brain exercise," he says. "I find it challenging, but also very rewarding."

Merkelson, 67, also enjoys the camaraderie of his fellow potters and, in addition to his weekly class, drops in a few times a week for open studio time. "It's a very sharing type of activity," he says.

LEARNING THE CRAFT

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Island Pottery Studio owner Linda Scarcella says ceramic-making is a democratic art form.

"Once you get the basics down, especially on the wheel, it gives you the opportunity to open up and do a million different things," Scarcella says. "And at the very least, when you're finished, you throw on some pretty glaze and you've got a usable pot."

Indeed, says LuAnn DelGiorno, 61, of Garden City, who loves how free she feels working with clay. "I'm really not creative, but now I feel like maybe I'm finding a little creative side in me."

So while you may not have a Moore and Swayze hands-dipped-in-clay cinematic moment, perhaps you can still come away from pottery classes feeling more fulfilled. And, you get to take home a handmade vase, pot, mug or other keepsake.

WHERE TO TAKE CLASSES

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ART LEAGUE OF LONG ISLAND

107 E. Deer Park Rd., Dix Hills

INFO 631-462-5400, artleagueli.net

COST From $230Offers several 6- to 9-session courses and open workshops (some begin this week) for students who want to learn how to work on the wheel or by hand.

ARTRAGEOUS STUDIO

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5 N. Village Ave., Rockville Centre

INFO 516-255-5255, artrageousrvc.com

COST $60-$65 for 2-session hand building and glazing class.

GATHER STUDIO

83 E. Main Street, Ste. 5 Patchogue

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INFO 631-654-1351, gatherstudio.blogspot.com

COST $40 per 2-hour class

HAVEN ART STUDIO

29 Haven Ave., Port Washington

INFO 516-883-8344, havenartstudiony.com

COST $425 (includes 25 pounds of clay and firing/glazing) for 8-week sessions beginning May 2

ISLAND POTTERY STUDIO

315 Willis Ave., Mineola

INFO 516-493-9490, islandpotterystudio.com

COST $195 for 4 weeks, $350 for 8 weeks

STUDIO E

565 Route 25A, No. 103, Miller Place

INFO 631-744-4001, studioeartclass.com

COST $180 for 8-week sessions (or $30 drop-in)