Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Throwing class

After all this time I am finally trying to learn how to make stuff on the pottery wheel. I am not having much luck with it, but at least I am finally trying to learn it.

The first class I took at the university did not allow beginners to use the wheel at all, which was strange since the next semester you had to commit the entire four months to either hand building vessels, or hand building sculptures, or throwing on the wheel. And how are you supposed to decide if you want a whole semester of throwing on the wheel if you've never been allowed to try it? But that is the way it is set up there.

The second class I took at a community college, and they require everyone to at least observe a demonstration and sit at the wheel once. You don't have to make anything to turn in for a grade, you just have to try. I tried for about half an hour and gave up on it. If you watch someone who is good at it, like my teacher, then it looks easy and they have nice pieces done in about ten minutes. I can't seem to get the hang of even centering the clay.

So I didn't spend much time trying out the wheel, cause I knew that I wouldn't get anything done on it that was good enough to turn in for a grade, and there was always something else that needed to be done and I didn't have time to waste on the wheel doing extra stuff. So this semester I had skipped the regular classes and I am just taking this non-credit thing.

So I have been all summer without doing any ceramics, except for attempting to make some of my own clay, and that didn't go as planned either. So when class was about to start, I noticed the low enrollment and thought that the class would probably be cancelled. I decided not to get upset about it, and on the bright side if the class was cancelled I would be getting my $75 back, and we needed the money. So the week before the class started I was not really organized, and I hadn't even bought any clay, cause I didn't really think that there was going to be a class. At the last minute some students who wanted to take a different art class joined ours after they learned that their class was definitely going to be cancelled, so then we had a dozen or so people in our class and ours didn't get cancelled.

Still, I didn't learn that the class wasn't cancelled until after 5pm on Friday, which meant that it was too late to buy any clay. And then I was a bit late for class. Traditionally, the first day of a college course is a waste anyway, cause people don't have their books and such yet. The first day is just that day when you go and make sure you're in the right place and such. So I wasn't sure we would be doing anything that day or not, but that would be unfortunate, since the class is only on Saturdays and only for six weeks. Can't waste an entire class period like that.

But it turned out alright, since we wouldn't be doing much to start with he had enough clay for us to get started. Then there was about an hour of stuff that I didn't care about, like a tour of the building and talking about ceramics in general and such that I already knew. And then we watched a bit of a video that I'd already seen, but it had been a while and I needed to see it again. And then he did a demo himself. And then we got a few pieces of clay to work with, and two people already knew what they were doing, and the rest of us looked pretty bad at it.

So the first thing that you do is get the clay centered, and that just takes me too long. I do get around to it eventually, but it just seems to take me longer than everyone else. And then the next two things you do is to make a hole in the clay without getting the clay off-center, which I usually seem to do okay. And then the next bit is to make the hole larger, again without getting the clay off-center, which usually goes okay, but it doesn't always look as smooth at the bottom like it is supposed to, so sometimes I have to go back over it and smooth things out. And then comes the part where you lift the clay up and make a cylinder, and I never get that part right, and either it quickly goes off-center and looks more like an egg, or large pieces of clay actually come off. And then you have to start over again.

A couple of the new students have gotten to the part where they don't have a nice cylinder, but maybe they have a short bowl or a lopsided bowl or a bowl with a few curves in it that are not supposed to be there. And they like them well enough to keep them. But I've now been to my second class and do not even have a lopsided bowl to show for it.

The teacher says that this is normal and I shouldn't get upset about it. And I'm not upset about it, but two days of a six day class and nothing to show for it isn't my idea of a good time either.
The other thing that bothers me is that most of us have decided to use recycled clay. New clay is only eight dollars or nine dollars, but we are making quite a mess and spending the eight or nine dollars on stuff that we mostly end up putting back in the recycle bin seems silly, especially since there is now a machine all set up to recycle the clay. The problem is that since we all decided to use recycled clay, I spent half a hour of the two hour class getting the clay out of the machine. And then it takes me a while to get used to the wheel and the centering and such, and then we have to stop and clean up the area before class is over. So my first class I only got to work at the wheel for about half an hour, and my second class I only got to work at the wheel for about an hour and fifteen minutes. So I'm not happy about that, and I'm hoping that he'll at least let me use the recycling machine some other day of the week, so that on Saturday I am all ready to go when class starts.

I'm afraid that the money situation is so bad at the moment I can't even afford the eight or nine dollars for clay, and the store isn't open on Saturdays anyway.

I feel really bad physically. I don't know if it is the throwing class, or if maybe it was doing a lot of work the day before class. I am very tired and feel like staying in bed all day. Not the best idea at the moment. I'm am making progress on cleaning the backroom and I think that if I stop now it will just end up being a cluttered mess again soon.

The last day of class is the same day as the Halloween party, and I do not want to be tired and such then, so I am thinking that I might just have to skip the last day. Which means that if I don't at least get a lopsided bowl done during the next class I won't have a completed piece done this semester. Because the piece needs some drying time, and then you are supposed to put it back on the wheel for some finishing touches, and then it needs to be fired between classes, and then if it is going to be glazed that needs to be done before it can be fired again. So that's all hard to do in six classes anyway, so if I only go to five of the classes it's near impossible.

This particular class isn't supposed to be about finishing pieces, it's supposed to be about learning the technique. But I just can't quite look at it that way if don't have even one thing I'm happy with to take home with me.


Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts said...

I really want to take an art class.

dmarks said...

I want to take the most basic pottery/ceramics class. Costs a couple hundred bucks, I think. But probably not until late next year now.

bulletholes said...

I am a real Ceramics Guru. I did some Ceramics.
I don't know if you'll like my story or not.

But even if you don't check this out by my pal Souby, weho apparently was a pro potteer for some time. its a good post, with another link to another potter and maybe it will help "FIRE" you up!
Hi Laughs!

Dame Honoria Glossop said...

I tried pot throwing once. The guy made it look so easy, but I was rubbish it. I made an awful mess. The squelchy clay was really tactile though.