Oh yeah, and Pottery…

Oh, yeah, and pottery.

I’ve been taking pottery classes the last six weeks at Sawmill Pottery. I like making pottery, but as of yet I’m not very good at it. I think it takes a while to get good. I’m not sure how long a while is, but I suspect several years of effort. Lots of several years, even.

We’re doing wheel-thrown pottery, which I always liked better than pinch pots in high school. You take a lump of clay, thump it on a plaster table for a while to get the air bubbles out, thump it on a wheel, and then center it. You open the center of your centered lump of clay with your thumbs, and then press out the wall to form a cylinder. Once you have an open cylinder, you “pull” the walls up to the height you wish, and then gradually stretch the cylinder into a bowl. One then waits several days, and returns to the studio to center and trim the bottom of each pot into a “foot” or base to serve as the platform for sitting on the table or mantle or what-have-you. Then you wait several more days until it dries, and then you fire it in the kiln. You then return to glaze it.

So, the process, named and slightly simplified is (1) wedging, (2) centering [2a coning up] [2b ‘tuna canning’], (3) opening, (4) cylindering (5) pulling up, (6) opening out, (7) finishing, (8) drying, (9) centering and securing, (10) trimming, (11) drying, (12) firing, (13) glazing, and (14) firing.

I have ruined something on the order of twenty-five wheel-thrown pieces in the last five weeks. I have successfully completed two pieces, from throwing, to trimming. Right now I have three pieces at step 8, and three pieces between step 12 and 13. Of those last three pieces, one is cracked, and one of the others may crack. I have omitted things like adding handles, creating lids, or adding extra pieces like ladles and elaborate feet for goblets and standing bowls or cheese plates. Those steps usually go between steps 7 and 13 somewhere. No, I don’t know where yet. I’ve only been at this five weeks.

Both my finished pieces are blue and white, with broad blue spirals on them. They are not terribly elegant or interesting. But they are a beginning. So far, they lack elegance or style. But my first two pieces will be cereal or yogurt bowls for the morning. They may not be very fancy, but they are mine, quite indisputably. I’m proud of them, even if they are not quite as elegant as I’d hoped.

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6 comments

  1. Footing/Trimming were always favorites of mine from the steps, although I also used underglazes to good effect and fun. I haven’t actually thrown a pot since ’91, the last summer I was pottery counselor at Kieve.

  2. Footing/Trimming were always favorites of mine from the steps, although I also used underglazes to good effect and fun. I haven’t actually thrown a pot since ’91, the last summer I was pottery counselor at Kieve.

  3. v. cool

    I took ceramics iun college…i used to love throwing pieces and then destroying them…something cathartic in that…..the few piecesthat did make it through the whole process still survive to this day….they were so heavy, they ended up making great dishes for my mom’s dog 🙂

  4. v. cool

    I took ceramics iun college…i used to love throwing pieces and then destroying them…something cathartic in that…..the few piecesthat did make it through the whole process still survive to this day….they were so heavy, they ended up making great dishes for my mom’s dog 🙂

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