Pottery is Not For The Meek

Monday, January 12, 2015
I think I underestimated how difficult pottery was going to be. Yesterday was the first of ten pottery classes I signed up for at Christmas. I've wanted to try my hand at it for years but never got around to trying it until yesterday. Yikes.  It is tough.

We were a small group, about nine students, allowing our instructor, Carol to help each of us when we needed it.  After a quick run through of the studio rules and a brief introduction on how to prepare your clay and throw it (literally) onto the wheel, we were off. 
Needless to say just about everyone was apprehensive. Within a few minutes though we all had clay on the wheels and were doing our best (unsuccessfully) to make something that resembled anything other than a lump of rapidly drying clay.  I messed up my first attempt and had to start over.  Within a few minutes though I had a second round going and stopped when I couldn't remember the next step. As Carol walked by my wheel, she glanced down, pointed and said "That's PERFECT".  I was so pleased with myself, I forged ahead.  Seconds later, I had put my finger through the side of my cylinder and ... had to start from scratch again.

Thankfully, on the third round, now two hours into the class, I managed to shape something that looked not too bad. Wisely, I waited for Carol this time to help out.  She took over and made a few adjustmens.  I finished it off with a nice lip at the top.  And then... panic.  How the heck was I supposed to get this off the wheel and onto my board for drying?  Oh dear god. All that work and I would likely ruin it within seconds.  The girl to my left had already finished one small cup and she gave me a few pointers. Somehow it made it onto the board without falling apart or being crushed by my Hulk hands. Sure, there were a few (a lot!) of fingerprints embedded in the once perfect looking side and there was a slight dent in the beautiful lip I had somehow unbeknownst to me created but I did it.  Its currently sitting in the back corner of the studio on a shelf covered by plastic awaiting whatever we're going to do with it next week.

I had time to quickly attempt a fourth throwing and managed to get something that looked like a plate. I was pretty pleased with myself although again, I don't know how I managed to get to this point.  Unfortunately, the centre was thicker/higher than the sides and I couldn't figure out how to fix it so I had Carol come by.  It was not meant to be.  Not my fault this time... While Carole tried to bring the sides up to try and turn it into a bowl, it somehow turned into a piece of abstract art.  She said it could be salvaged as a interesting candy dish or something like but I figured it was best to just junk it. 

There were other people in the studio who had clearly been doing this for quite some time as they pounded out bowls, cups and other items one after the other with ease.  It was inspiring and intimidating at the same time.  I don't think I necessarily have a future in pottery but I'll enjoy the class for the next couple of months.  


Eugene K said...

I think the watchword here is practice, practice, practice. You're doing something new that takes some learned skills, and I'm betting it simply takes some experience before you can make the clay work for you instead of against you.

Karen said...

Eugene, you're totally right. I'm already planning on practicing the same shape (basic cylinder) next week and getting the preparation of the clay down pat (LOL). I've got some ideas of some things I'd like to make but I'm thinking they will probably be easier doing free form rather than on the wheel, which will be later in the course.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

That does look like fun, albeit of the slightly scary variety. How were your hands after being immersed in cold wet clay for a couple of hours?

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