A Day At The Pottery Studio

Yesterday I had my second lesson in pottery.  It was a cloudy gray day and perfect for creating pottery.  I also got to paint the pieces I had created last week.

 

There is something to be said about creating something new from the earth with nothing but a wheel and your own two hands.  I'm really enjoying this.  It's very therapeutic.  And on a cloudy day with Kate Bush music playing in the background, not much could get better.

 

The bowl shape on the left will actually become a coffee cup.  The other item was a coffee cup gone awry.  My instructor said it looked like modern art.  I don't know.  I kind of like it.  We'll see what it looks like when painted and glazed.

 

It's not perfect but it's a start.  I'm always complaining when camping that I don't have a heavy duty mug to use.  This may be it. 

 

Isn't this beautiful?  I hope to make things this nice in the future.  This plate was created by a Navajo Indian and then painted by a teenage student.  Yesterday a group of teenagers from Canada had come down to study their Navajo ancestry.  Part of this is pottery. 

 

This is the outdoor brick kiln; one of many at the studio.  There are still some pieces inside left to cool.  Temperatures range from 1900 degrees F (low fire) to 2400 degrees F (high fire).  Yesterday I painted the pieces I created last week.  Even though the paints look nothing like what one would think (what will eventually be blue had a milky color), after these pieces are fired, the minerals in them will turn colors from the intense heat.  Much the same way gemstones do while heated in the earth.

 

Above are the pieces the Canadian students had made.  They are being fired over charcoal and dried cow manure. (I hope my pieces make it into the brick kiln instead!)

Next week I'll get to see the finished product of my pieces.  I'll be very curious to see what they look like.  And by the way, I'm still trying to find a home for that spitoon.  Any takers?  😉

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Pottery 101 – Take 2

On Monday night I headed to North Phoenix to find the studio where my first pottery lesson was to take place.  I drove to an area that up until a few years ago was mostly remote.  I passed the street I was supposed to turn down and had to turn around.  It was slightly hidden and I was surprised to see that I was now on a dirt road that stopped at the foothills of the mountains.  I turned into a driveway and parked next to a garage-type building. Hanging on the wall in glazed ceramic were letters that spelled out 'Studio.'  There was a patio out front with mismatched chairs and lawn chairs placed around a fire pit.  Off to the side were kilns for firing pottery.  I liked this place already.

Upon entering the studio, I saw a large tall table in the center of the first room followed by 10 potter's wheels behind it set behind plastic lawn chairs.  The walls were lined with shelves filled with pots, bowls, and any other creation one could imagine in a pottery studio.  In an adjacent room with an authentic dirt floor, were all different tables from various dining sets.  Each was covered with different types of pottery that could be purchased and painted.  Two black cats were stretched out asleep on top of one of the tables.  Music by Carlos Santana set the back drop of this scene.

I was a half hour early for the lesson.  There were two ladies there; one was about my age and owned the studio.  She reminded me of a nouveau hippie although she is probably not much older than me.  I instantly liked her.  The other was a younger woman who ran the ceramic painting portion of the studio.  She wore an apron over her t-shirt and shorts and I smiled when I saw she was wearing pale pink cowboy boots with it.  She was blonde with two baby pig tails in her hair.  I loved the earthiness of this place. 

The first lady, who is also my instructor, gave me a tour.  She showed me all the different things I could make.  There was also a sample of the types of paints and textures I could give an item after it's first firing in the kiln.  There was one other person scheduled for the lesson but where she didn't show, I got a private lesson.  First she gave me a demonstration from behind the wheel.  I donned an apron and then sat where she had been to give it my first shot.  I dipped my hand in water and then positioned my hand around the clay with the wheel spinning.  I wasn't sure what I would make but it seem to take the position of a bowl.  She guided me through the first three items and then I was on my own for the fourth.

Midway through the session, a young preteen boy came in.  He seem to know everyone there and went over the hug my instructor.  I thought at first it might be her son but he seem to be calling her by her first name.  He introduced himself to me and held out his hand.  He still shook my hand even though I was covered in clay up to my elbows.  He looked down at his soiled hand and laughed.  My instructor told me that he had been coming there now for 2 and half years and was an amazing artist.  She held up a bowl he had created and my jaw just about dropped to the floor.  It looked like something that you would see in one of those shi-shi galleries in Old Town Scottsdale.  Absolutely amazing!  This kid was probably not more than 12 or 13.  She went on to tell me that in the last pottery show he had entered in 10 of his own pieces.  Two of them won prizes.  One was featured on the poster for the event.

I created the four pieces below.  My favorite is the one in the lower left hand corner.  They are all a little rough but it isn't too bad I suppose considering it was my first shot.  I'm not sure what I'll do with the one in the upper right hand corner.  I could place a candle in it.  Maybe a spitoon?

In two weeks I'll be able to go back and paint these bad boys.  I'm looking forward to that.  I'll post a before and after picture.  I liked this so much that I booked another lesson for next week.  Yesterday I went to the library and took out books on pottery.  It went through the history of the potter's wheel through ancient times up until now.  It gave instructions on how to make pitchers and tea pots, plates and saucers.  I would like to create things that are practical; bakeware & decorations, and not things that are just destined to sit around the house collecting their share of dust.  I would like to make gifts, too. 

Before leaving the young man responsible for creating the amazing pottery shook my hand again (luckily they were clean this time).  He called me by my first name and asked when I would be back.  What a sweetheart.  I like this place.  I really do.

 

Here are my creations from the pottery class Monday night.  Anybody in need of a spitoon? 

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