Learning how to make pottery has been bopping around in the back of my head ever since I can remember. Also bopping around were the reasons why I couldn’t do it: Cost prohibitive, time constraints, nursing a child, husband’s work schedule, etc.
But then this last fall, a friend told me she wanted to take this class as well and it was cancelled because of lack of interest and said I would be interested in taking it sometime. At the same time, Christina asked the writers at Northern Cheapskate to commit to writing 3 posts in 2012 dedicated to completing some dreaded task or learning a new skill.
Those two things were just the push I needed to commit to taking the classes and break down those reasons for my reluctance. I had Christmas money to spend on myself to pay for the class; I made a commitment to myself to set aside this night every week for 7 weeks to learn and did not schedule activities for this kids; There is no nursing schedule to work around; and I asked my husband to commit to this schedule as well.
After taking the first class, I thought I would include a picture from each day and my thoughts on the class. After 7 weeks I might forget some of those thoughts and feeling from the first couple.
Class #1 (made a small bowl and started a mug, handle to be added Week #2)
I was not sure what to expect and have absoluetly no experience with pottery. I admit, I left the class stressed and exhausted. I am very much a Type A person in a Type B environment. I have completely stepped out of my comfort zone. I need to give myself permission to become comfortable with things not looking “perfect” and be ok with things might be broken during drying and while in the kiln. I have also become aware that I will have stubs for fingernails while taking this class. Clay is very drying to hands and nails. I will be working on adjusting my expectations for the class, myself & my work from here on out. Hopefully.
Class #2 (made a small bowl and a larger mug, trimmed bottom of 2 pieces from last class and added a handle to my first mug)
I went in to this second class with the mantra that I was going to channel my inner Type B, wherever it was hidden and be more relaxed. I was really hoping to make a vase of some sorts during class #2, but the clay seemed to have a mind of it’s own. It was stiffer than the week before, plus I wasn’t exactly sure how to make it taller with a narrow opening. So, I made another mug instead. We were also told during this class that our items will shrink about at least 15% when we fire them, which is good to know so that I don’t end up with a bunch of tea sets. I still would like to make a vase and learn how to make a plate as well.
Class #3 (made a larger bowl, some other kind of cylinder container, and a bulbous vase)
I came away with three creations this time and trimmed the bottom of one from last week. My other creation from last week was still very tacky and was not ready to trim or to make a handle for.
My first one for this class was the larger bowl and I made it with my clay. My second creation became too thin and collapsed. (Insert my sad face) We were all having trouble with our clay because it was just too tough, so she switched up to the recycled clay (clay from failed projects they put in a machine to make it useable again) and I made the other two pieces from that.
Class #4 (learned slab rolling & made 3 platters/plates, trimmed 2 pieces & added a mug handle)
I was not sure what I was going to be able to do for this class because 5 days prior I sprained my wrist snowboarding.(Doh!) Lucky for me, our teacher had previously decided to teach us slab rolling, which was something I could do wearing a brace on my wrist.
In the background you can see 3 pinkish pieces, those are my first 3 pieces of bisqueware (meaning they have been fired). They made it through that and didn’t crack. Fingers are crossed that more make it and these make it though the glazing process.
Class #5 (started using porcelain clay & made 4 pieces, trimmed 5 pieces)
I had a taped up wrist (can’t throw clay in a brace) and high hopes this clay would be soft enough to work with considering my wrist is still injured. My goal for this nights class was to let go even more and create some quirky pieces. As you can see, I have a couple of more “fluid” pieces that is way different from anything else I have created.
I created all of these pieces without any assistance from my instructor, not even to ask a question. I was trying to do some stuff with these pieces, but I wanted to experiment with the theories I had in my mind. I am quite happy with my curvy pieces and hope they make it through firing and glazing.
Class #6 (Threw 2 pieces on the wheel, then tried out slab rolling on the porcelain for 3 pieces)
My other pieces were not ready to be trimmed so I had more time to create pieces this week. It felt really good to produce 5 pieces during one class. With only one more class left, it looks like I will be coming in during open lab time to finish up trimming and glazing during open lab time.
The circular platter didn’t make it. It became my first broken piece.
Class #7 (Final Class! We learned about basic glazing today. Glazed all my bisqued pieces from Classes 1-5.)
Figuring out color combinations was fun. You can see it in this picture of the glazing room, but on one wall they have examples of all 2 color combinations of glazes. I was not sure what I was going to do with all my pieces, so I just decided that I really like the Caribbean Green glaze and was going to use that as either the under or over glaze for every piece, that way every single one of my pieces were coordinating because of using this same glaze throughout, regardless of what other glaze I chose or how the piece was constructed.
My final analysis of the class is that I ended up really enjoying this class. I am amazed at the amount of pieces I created in such a short time. I went back in the week after our class ended to finish up some stuff and my instructor was there. Our first few classes, her mantra was “Don’t get attached to anything. It’s just dried dirt.”
The first night she told us to expect that half our stuff was going to break at some point in the process, so if we don’t get attached to anything then we won’t be upset when something is broken. So, I had commented saying she must have purposefully said that to lower our expectation just in case that much broke, so that if we ended up with any pieces more than half we would be happy. Well, I was happy because I only had one piece break that I had created! Of course there were lots of failures on the wheel, but that clay could be re-used. It was the finished pieces of dried dirt I was worried about.
I am getting a membership to the Art Center so that I can continue with my pottery. I also do plan to take my instructor’s advice and take other pottery classes there. There is another instructor there that teaches wheel pottery and a couple that teach hand-building. I might even take a drawing or painting class too some day. But for now, I need to decide what to do with all my creations.
This post is part of year-long vow to get those projects done that we’ve been putting off. Stay tuned next month as Christina pushes herself to complete something on her “Get it Done” list. Now it’s your turn: What project did you finally get crossed off your to-do list this month? What’s on your “Get it Done” list for next month?