Pottery Girl: A return to Clay

Morning!

As mentioned in my introductory post, my beloved gave me the gift of a 5 week pottery course for Christmas. The artist running the course was a lovely guy, very knowledgable and had a well stocked studio however what was sold as a ‘course’ was more time spent in his studio. Had I known this I would have prepared some drawings and ideas for things to make, however as it was we turned up (there was roughly 8 of us), were given a quick demonstration of pinch pots and swiftly told to make something.. Something. Some.. Thing. Right. So what did I make? I decided it might be a good opportunity to experiment with textures (in part to buy myself time to think of something I ACTUALLY wanted to make, in part to suggest to the artist that I didn’t know the possibilities of what we could do e.g. the properties or limitations of the clay we were working with – appropriate thickness, size, what this kind of clay was good for..).

And so it was I made this random shape, pulled, scrapped, prodded and poked it. Don’t ask me what it is, I have no idea:

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To be honest, that’s about all we did the first week. The following week (and thereafter) I decided I wanted to make a few creatures for the garden so that my little one can ‘discover’ them as she plays outside. Using pinch pots smushed together, I created a hedgehog (two large pinch pots and a smaller one attached) and a bird (bird used 4 pinch pots). I used a fork to create the hedgehog textured back, but apart from that I can’t tell you what clay we used, what glazes we used or anything else, because I have no idea.

As you can see, my hedgehog developed a huge crack. I later found out this was because I hadn’t put a hole in the bottom of it (although I thought I had, perhaps the hole was too small).

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My ‘blackbird’ (grey bird?) was more successful, however I think the wax eyes are a bit creepy and clearly different shapes. The glaze on the beak was too thick and the wax used to keep it yellow has dripped down making it look like my bird is dribbling.  Poor bird.

Around the third week I think, we were given a chance to throw something on the wheel. We didn’t prepare the clay or even centre it, we simply made a small cylinder. As it happens, mine wobbled and he finished it off for me. He also used mine as an example to demonstrate finishing off the bottom, so all in all, although I say I did it… I really don’t feel like I did. The one thing I did do, and was quite proud of as it was my first time, was pull my own handle! At the moment of glazing, the artist hadn’t washed his hands and so my glaze choices of a green outside and blue rim were given extra brown finger marks which leaked into the glaze.

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In the final week we attempted a raku firing. Now, this was very exciting and we almost didn’t do it as the weather was terrible (windy), but I am glad we did. I’m only sad I didn’t prepare more for the kiln. We were told one item, which I dutifully made (an angled pot) however other attendees didn’t adhere to the advice and so others made birds, cats and fish and all were included. (Can you tell I’m still annoyed, months later?). I was happy with my pot, apart from the crack, although I feel this adds to the piece as it was born from fire and shows signs from this. The glazes we used for raku firing, I don’t know if this applies to all raku glazes, meant that the item would not be suitable for serving food as it was toxic, so the fact that my pot cracked didn’t really bother me at all. I used both a metallic glaze and a white crackly glaze, cross sectioned with wax, however the wax wasn’t  as successful as I had hoped. None the less, this is probably my favourite piece from the whole course. I love how the same glaze has gone bronze / copper like and the effect of the white is beautiful :

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I’m off to go pick up a bag of clay from SB but I’ll return and post some more about the classes with her when I can later today.

PG x

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