Saturday, March 24, 2007

A few more complaints about ceramic class

We didn't have to buy as much stuff for this ceramics class as I did for the one I took in 2004. We've only been asked to buy about half as much clay and a basic tool kit. We didn't have to buy mallets or paddles or paint brushes. We didn't have to pay for the plaster. (I did, but I wanted extra.) We haven't been asked to bring plywood or buy glaze or anything. We're even encouraged to pair off and buy the occasional bag of clay together and split it. I don't do that, because I want to do extra projects, but it's nice to have that option. The instructor has given us clay for three of our tiles, just because he thought it was pointless to have us buy a lot of clay when one or two bags could be divided up between the whole class. He didn't even collect a dollar from everyone to pay for it, he just found some way to get the school to buy it. There's even a whole table of underglazes that we can use if we have to paint anything.

So it's really nice that there is all this free stuff and they've tried to keep the costs down and all of that. But occasionally there is something that really gets on my nerves. And today I really hate the wedging table.

If you don't know what a wedging table is, it's this table with a plaster top that is covered with canvas. You knead the clay on this. And you cut your clay in half, stick it back together, hold it over your head, and then throw it back down on the table and listen to it make a loud "splat" sound. Then you do it again.

In theory, the clay doesn't stick to the table. Well, a little bit of it does stick to the canvas, and you're supposed to clean it up a bit after you use it. But there is still always a little bit left even after that. So you are supposed to work with the white clays on one side of the table, and the darker clays on the other side of the table. That way the white clay doesn't get stained with little tiny bits of darker clay on the canvas.

And, since we haven't got any other place to do this, the wedging table is also where we leave newly mixed clay that is too wet to work with.

Of course, whenever you want to use the wedging table, the side that you need is usually already in use. Either someone else is wedging, or someone has covered a fourth of the table with wet clay that has to sit there for a day or two. Also, on the white side of the table, the plaster seems to be breaking up under the canvas, and while you should be able to get a nice flat surface on your clay, your clay ends up having all these little craters on it.

And I've just found out that the next to last project has to be made from terra cotta. I've about run out of the terra cotta that I bought, and it seems dumb to buy any more of it, since I have a backyard full of mud that could be made into terra cotta clay.

So next time I go to class, I'm going to be evil and cover a fourth of the wedging table with wet clay.

And yes, I could just pour a slab of plaster so I could dry out my wet clay at home. But someone borrowed about half of that plaster I bought earlier, and that was a few weeks ago and I have not been repaid.

Oh, I just found out that not all of our projects will be fired this semester, and we'll have to go back and get some of our things during the summer.

1 comment:

dmarks said...

This might be the first Ceramics post where it really didn't look to be any fun at all.