Saturday, January 5, 2013

Playing in the mud- P ot D

There are FEW things in this world that I like better than throwing on the potter's wheel!  It instantly soothes me, relaxes me, and engages my entire being.  I can throw simple things like nobodies' business, and I can center a chunk of clay in a heartbeat.  This is, of course, because I center about a million pounds of it for my students!  When they are learning the wheel techniques, I let them work at it for a good long time, so they practice, then towards the end of the session, I will center so they have a chance to practice the rest of the process as well.  I am delighted when kids get that glow as they figure out that they indeed CAN do the hardest part of it themselves.

It is also VERY interesting to see the kids who turn out to be natural throwers!  They surprise the heck out of themselves when they find that with a little instruction they are able to sit down and conquer the basics in only a few sessions.  FREQUENTLY, it is the students who might struggle in other areas of their day, either in art or other classes.  However, you don't have to be a "natural" to succeed.  I was really not a natural, I took 5 semesters in college and I never became as skilled as many of the potters that emerged from Richard Joslin's Ceramics classes at UW-Eau Claire!  But I loved the process, the feeling, the results of the day- so I practiced and practiced and practiced, and in the end, that is how you become competent.

It is difficult to not be a show-off sometimes when throwing- the kids think the whole process is so amazing to see that I have to resist the urge to take 10 lb of clay and do something fancy with it.  I want them to make simple shapes first, so they can really get the hang of the basics. I forget how beautiful and magical it is to see that clay transform from a ball into a symmetrical form that can change shape at my whim. And this is not about me, so I demonstrate the simplest of shapes, things that they can achieve during their first attempts, sometimes with a little assistance in centering.  So after the kids are cleaning up and I have a chunk of clay on my wheel and prep time is looming in front of me, I will sit down for a little clay therapy.  This is what I did on Friday-

What you can't see well is that the lip is not perfect, it is a bit lopsided and off- balance, which by the way IS my choice.  I could have neatened it up with no problem, but I love that tension of precision and flaw and the goo that is on the side adds to that juxtaposition.  Sigh.  I kinda want to do it again!  Like maybe on Monday!!  :)

I could go all psychological and talk about how throwing is metaphor for life- it takes practice sometimes to work through the hard parts,  little flaws in it making results infinitely more interesting, that you can try to control it all you want and sometimes, something you really want collapses,  how sometimes things you don't THINK are going to work out at all emerge into something really great..... and you always have a chance to throw another piece of clay on the wheel and start forming something new.  You can always expect the unexpected and with a little work, you can indeed make something interesting and unique!  But that seems a little deep for 6 in the morning!

And this IS my Picture of the day!!

Find some JOY today, sometimes it just takes a little work to create it from the goo!


  1. OK....I know I'm not great at this computer stuff, but I can't see the picture!!!! :( Loved the post, as usual. ;)

    1. You can't?? If anyone else can't, let me know please!!