Saturday, July 30, 2011

And thus it ends

This is the glazing yurt. A smaller version of where I do wheel work.

So, the last few weeks managed to get away from me without posting anything. Pottery class ended on on Thursday. I am pretty bummed. I want to go back for more, but until I get a job, that is on hiatus. Everyone was incredibly nice and encouraging, and I'm glad I did it.

A few things I learned:

I was definitely trained to be a production potter. I throw very quickly (with too much water) and make things that can come off the wheel, dry, be sanded, and go into the kiln. I rarely trim. The only things that get trimmed are bowls and plates, because I believe those need a foot rim. On Tuesday (the penultimate class), I made vases that could just be cut off the wheel and be ready to go into bisque (with a little cleaning) on Thursday. The woman next to me was astounded that I didn't trim things. I realized then that trimming A) wastes a ton of clay and B) wastes a ton of time. When you're in production, you don't want to waste that time or money, thus you don't trim. I still can't figure out why they teach trimming on everything, but perhaps I'll learn when I return. Also astounding was that I sand down my pieces before putting them in bisque. You want smooth work! (Thanks Mark and Meredith for teaching me to sand at every stage!)

I'm still really good at pulling handles. The woman next to me was pretty astounded by my skill. It was awkward, because she would ask me to call her attention to whatever I was working on to teach her. I tried my best to teach her how to pull a handle, but that felt strange. I think I blew her mind when I pulled the handle off the mug. I love doing that because I love how it looks finished, but it's tricky. I'm very proud of myself for that.

I think altered 1.5 to 2 foot vases are my calling. I started doing them in my last semester of school, but never really pursued it further. Yet, when I sat down at the wheel on Tuesday, that's what I kept making. And having tons of fun with it. I like the challenge of getting 3 lbs. of clay into a tall, even cylinder and then completely skewing the sides, while keeping it functional. Also, tall forms are the envy of many of my classmates, so I ended up giving a "lesson" to the two people who sat next to me on how to keep your hands together and steady when you pull up a tall vessel. I also realized I have no idea how to explain that. I wish I took pictures of these things, but I forgot in the moment. I've also been a little distracted by another (wonderful!) event in my life, so I'll use that as my excuse.

Things come out of the kiln today. I may stop by and see what I've wrought! (Plate below glazed in Woo's Blue and Leach's White)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I tried!

Encouraged by Meredith, over at Whynot Pottery, who knows my clay skills, I tried to tackle a 4 lb. casserole dish. The first one ended awkwardly when I didn't remember how to make a rim for a lid. I got all the way there, shaped the pot, it was going so smoothly. And then, I suddenly found myself staring at the rim, trying to figure out what to do. I asked the guy next to me, but he said that he'd only made one lidded container, and that was by accident. (How does that happen?) So, I turned the casserole into a large bowl and tried again. What resulted is what you see above. That was last Thursday.

This Tuesday, I charged myself with making a lid. I was in a funk when I went to class, and didn't really want to go, and that was clear when I sat down to work. I pulled a handle, which took me four tries, (Four!!) and then started on lids. I thought originally I would do a bowl lid that I could trim to fit the pot, but that didn't work out. I ended up going with what I was taught was called a "Tom Terrific" lid. (Not sure if anyone else in the world calls it that.) (And a quick Google search tells me it was named for a character on Captain Kangaroo. Thanks, internet!) No pics of the lid, and not sure how well it will work. My calipers are still set to my original measurements, so until I'm satisfied, I'll know what size I need to make that lid.

Threw a few little tea cups, no pictures of those either. I really want to push myself to do altered forms and keep looking at pictures. I sketch, but when I sit down at the wheel, my hands go to what they're used to. Must work on fixing that. Ultimate goal: make an altered, yet functional, teapot.