November 12, 2014

the best, most beautiful bowl i ever did throw

the first pottery class i took was to get involved in the community, to have something to do on wednesday nights, to maybe make friends.

the second pottery class i took was because lisa wanted to take one too and because all the stuff i'd thrown in the first class was lumpy and off center but had gotten better over the seven weeks so i thought maybe i had potential.

the third pottery class, the one i'm in now, was because actually i really enjoy pottery - i like that there are so many different steps so if you're bored with throwing you can trim and if you're bored with trimming you can glaze, i like that you start with something that looks an awful lot like mud and wind up with something you made, i like how the clay feels, i like that it's an art form that is functional (sometimes) in addition to being aesthetically pleasing (eh, working on it).  i like the random people that wheelthrowing attracts.

i'm the kind of person who learns how to do things too many times.  i took the beginners skiing class three times until my friends decided that seriously anna we don't need to do this anymore.  so being the only one in the class with experience works for me.  i mean, paul has already surpassed me in cylinder making, but he's some kind of weird prodigy apparently so whatever.  because the group is almost entirely beginners (i mean, i'm a beginner too if we're being honest, but i'm talking people that have zero experience), the teacher still takes twenty or so minutes at the beginning of class to go over the basics.  watch me throw a cylinder.  watch me do it again.  here is one way to center, here is one way to open, here are others.  it's slow and deliberate and i appreciate completely.  and then he sets us free and we hunch over our wheels with our glorified mud and try to turn it into vessels that don't crumple in our clumsy fingers.

i threw a couple meh cylinders that i'll turn into coffee mugs and give away for christmas probably, and then i was out of my first layer of clay so i cut some bigger pieces and thought i might throw a bowl.  it's similar to making a cylinder, except instead of making a volcano shape, you collar the sides up straight and then veerrrryyyy carefullllyyyyy pull the sides out and up and out and up until the bowl is the shape and thickness you want.  i've made a bunch of bowls, and actually found them to be the most useful things i'd thrown, probably because 90% of the foods i eat are either pasta or beans and rice, but the problem with clay is that it shrinks.  it shrinks 10-15% according to james, so if you throw a bowl and say "oh this will be great for salad" it will probably be great for like, some baby carrots.  the first several things i made were salsa bowls that quickly turned into ketchup dishes.

BUT!!  last night, i took my lump of clay and threw it on the wheel and centered it and opened it and compressed the floor and collared it and started pulling and each pull worked the way i wanted it to until i had a lovely lovely big bowl with nice thin sides and a pretty shape.  and then we had to figure out how to get it off the wheel because i hadn't used a bat but we got it eventually and i took pictures of it in case something goes wrong during one of the next steps because i made a real live big beautiful bowl.