Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Getting down and dirty

A couple of weeks ago, a new semester of school started, and along with it was a new session of evening classes. One of the classes is a throwing class. Throwing pots on a wheel that is. Not throwing things across the room. Although that may happen with pots from time to time. All accidentally of course.

As I mentioned this past summer, I had taken a year of pottery back in my student days. I really enjoyed playing in the mud, most days, and thought that it would be nice to do a little more. I also would like to make a few large bowls and the perfect mug. I looked for my prefect mug at all of the craft sales that I was at this past Christmas season and didn't find what I was looking for.

So now I have a goal.

Here is what I threw the first day of class. 9 muggy forms and 3 bowls of various sizes. Unfortunately, they ended up being a little to dry to put handles on by the time that class came around again so I h=now have a bunch of "vases" or "handle-less mugs".

 Here is one of the 4 bowls that I threw last night. The circular batt that it is sitting on is about 12 inches in diameter to give you a rough idea of the size of the bowl.

And here are the other three bowls that I did last night. They make me very happy!

Next week, I get to trim these babies and try and throw my perfect mug form. And for those of you who have never done any pottery, when you throw a pot on a wheel, you usually leave some extra clay on the bottom and when it has dried a bit, you put the pot back on the wheel upside down and use a special tool to "trim" away any excess clay. That is how potters put a little rim on the bottom of pots. We call then feet.

As for the two things that didn't work out, well, you all know what a lump of sloppy clay looks like right? But I saved my clay and spread it out of a plaster bat to dry a bit. Next week I will get a wedging lesson. I tend to kneed my clay, which is a bad thing. Wedging is sort of like kneeding except that you are both softening the clay and removing any air that is present. Kneeding is an action that introduces air into the mass that you are working with and air pockets in clay are bad in so many levels. When you are throwing, they make your clay uneven on the wheel. Think unbalanced spin cycle in the washing machine and then translate that to wet clay. Not good. It can also cause your pot to blowup when being fired because the air pocket heats up and has no place to go, pressure goes up and a piece of your pot comes off. Also not good.
So I need to learn how to stop kneeding my clay and start wedging it.

Everyday is a new adventure.


Julia said...

Beautiful work. I love your bowls, very impressive. I never threw a pot on a wheel before. I took pottery classes years ago but it was slab building and I remember slapping the clay to get the air out when we wedged it. I'm trying to remember the pottery teacher's name. Peter Thomas comes to mind. I could be wrong. We mixed up glazes and I had come up with a beautiful red glaze and everyone wanted to know what I had used but I could not remember what I had used cause I didn't marked it down, silly me.

tanita davis said...

...someday, someday, maybe when D. gets a university job or something, we need to throw our own bowls. He's very good at it; I never had that as an art option in college.

Someone here must do pottery, but the places in town that have greenware paint-your-own mold poured stuff, which is not at all the same.


jackie said...

Mom, I think that it was Tom Smith who taught you pottery. Peter T was my teacher back in 91-92. I did a bunch of slab stuff when I first started making pots too. Then we graduated to the wheel.

Tanita, I have seen the type of pottery studios of which you speak. There is one in town here which is quite popular for birthday parties. I agree that it is not the same. I am very fortunate to have the access to the clay studio (for a fee of course) and that I was able to take a full year and a half of pottery in my former lifetime.
I am amazed at the things that I remember (like Peter talking about the steps to throwing pots) and the things that I had/have forgotten. Like the fact that you need to keep your finger nails really short or they mark your pots.

Dani said...

Ah, I would love to learn pottery. One of these days (like I need another craft)

I really like the shape of your bowls - I am looking forward to seeing them all finished!

Christine said...

I love everything you do Jackie! All your bowls and vases look amazing. :)
And I absolutely LOVE the mug you gave me at Christmas. It holds just enough coffee and is the perfect size to fit my hand.

Leigh said...

Wow, Jackie, you have another natural talent! The bowls look great and they would make me happy too. I admit though, that as much as I love having handcrafted pottery, I have no interest in learning it myself. I'm glad you decided to give it a try though.

DaviMack said...

12" diameter? Awesome! That's a nice throw (at least, to me, who tends to overwork things to the point that they fall apart before getting so large).

The only thing that I love more than throwing pots ... is blowing glass. Alas, the expense of keeping a puddle of glass at 2,400°F 24x7 days a year is somewhat prohibitive!

How're you going to glaze? How hard are you going to fire these?

Oh, feel the envy.

Valerie said...

Lovely work, Jackie. It takes a lot of strength and control to throw pots like that. Hard on the skin of the hands tho', isn't it?

Anonymous said...

hmph -Mira

mira's papa said...

Hmmmm, it seems our eldest is a bit miffed that she was not able to take the pottery class due to unsatisfactory grades in school. Hmph to blowing off one's math assignments I'd say.