Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What to expect during your first 6 week pottery session

Congratulations on signing up for pottery classes. It is always an exciting and daunting time for new students so, I am going to give you a breakdown of what to expect your first 6 weeks.

Week 1.

                I will greet you outside and lead you to the studio. I will give you an entry form and contract to fill out if you haven’t already filled one out. I will give you a storage area, tools, and clay. I will also give you a quick tour of the studio and an overview of studio practices.
                I will show you how to prep your clay for throwing and then demonstrate throwing while breaking it down into steps.
                After the demo you will have to opportunity to try throwing. I will walk you through the steps and may even position your hands accordingly.

Week 2.

                This week I back off and allow you to experience the clay. I will be here for questions but I really want you to work through the throwing process.

Week 3.

                I spend more time with you refining your technique and encouraging you.

Week 4.

                We have “the talk” in the glazing area. We will discuss glazing do’s and don’ts and again I will demo how to properly glaze your work. You are encouraged to have a notebook for this class and any time you are glazing.

Week 5.

                Glaze and wheel time.

Week 6.

                By week 6 you have probably decided whether you like pottery or if it is for the birds.
If you are not excited about pottery and feel like just chalking this session up to “I tried it once and it wasn’t for me”, then you should focus on glazing anything you have left. More than likely you will have something that will need to be fired so I will let you know when your pieces are done and you can come pick them up.

If you are excited about the process just keep making stuff and glazing your work when it is ready. Next class starts a new session and you just keep going.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

5 Things to Know Before Your First Pottery Class


Your first pottery class is right around the corner. Here are 5 things to know about me and my studio.

1. Pets, Pets, Pets

I have animals, dogs to be exact. I bring this up first because there have been some surprises for new students in the past. The dogs are friendly, they do not bite, and they also stay behind a gate.
I have three dogs, a very loud Boston terrier named Bug. He will greet everyone by barking excessively and running away. He is the loudest, smallest and oldest dog I have. 

Toby, is a black German Short Haired Pointer and very soft and sweet. He won’t bark and usually just stands back and wags his tail.

Jase is a Staffordshire terrier and a former show dog. He is a very sweet boy and a big baby. His size can be a little intimidating to some people. He may put his paws up on the gate and greet you when you come in.

Feel free to get to know them, pet them if you are comfortable with dogs, or ignore them. It’s okay. If for any reason you are uncomfortable with my dogs just let me know and I will put them upstairs and out of eyesight and earshot. I promise I won’t be offended and neither will they.

2. In the Basement

The studio is in the basement. Yes, you will be going to a potential stranger’s house and immediately going to his basement. What could possibly go wrong right? We joke about this all the time. Nothing will go wrong…I hope. I have up to 30 students a session some new but most returning students which means I haven’t creeped too many people out. Feel free to sign up with a buddy if you are concerned, maybe someone you could beat in a race for the door….

3. No Experience Necessary

Don’t worry if you have NEVER touched clay before. We all started not knowing a dang thing about clay. We will not laugh at you. Well, we might laugh with you. Swear words do escape our lips on occasion, its okay. I expect and encourage you to make as many mistakes as you can. I feel that it is only through trial and error that we can really understand what we need to do in order to throw clay on the wheel.

On the first day I will demonstrate throwing on the wheel. I will list off several steps in order to make a cylinder. I will make it look easy. It is not easy. It’s not, I promise. BUT I also promise that the more you do it, the more “learning opportunities” you have, the more likely you are to have “ah hah” moments and be successful. Are you going to make a recognizable piece your first time on the wheel? Probably not, hate to burst your bubble. 

You may have something that you label a “pot” or “thing” or “pencil holder” on your first day. I give you an assignment of six, 5 inch cylinders for your first session. The assignment is designed to teach you to move the clay up and to be able to control it. You may need all 6 weeks to accomplish this. You may need to sign up for another session to get six pieces. It has happened. After you demonstrate to me you can move and control the clay I can teach you to make ANYTHING. You will be learning a craft. Craft has certain steps that you need to do in order to be successful. Like all other crafts, it’s only after learning the steps that you can begin to make Art.

So far we have just been talking about making 6 pieces on the potter’s wheel, we haven’t even begun discussing glazing or decorating your work. That will come. One thing at a time…

4. Dress for Success

Let’s recap. You will be working with clay in a dudes’ basement. You should wear clothing that you can get dirty (you will get dirty), watches, bracelets and rings should be taken off too. The biggest thing you need to know is if you have long fingernails you will be encouraged to trim them-short. Finger nails that reach past the tip of your finger WILL dig into the clay and become like mini clay shovels. It will not be pretty take my word for it. Also, that manicure you just got, kiss it goodbye and it is a good idea to dress in layers. The basement can be cool to some people in the winter.

 5. Adulting Happens

Everyone working in the studio is an adult or at least should be. Conversations can be adult conversations. It is ok and encouraged to bring adult drinks to class. Swearing happens. Food happens. Drinking happens. Subjects like politics and religion come up from time to time. It is ok to have conversations as long as everyone’s viewpoints are respected. It is ok for you to be “you” in my studio. It is a safe place. I don’t care if you are white, black, gay, straight, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Democrat or Republican you are welcome in my studio. What’s not allowed in my studio is “ghosting”, ya know the Patrick Swayze-Demi Moore Ghost scene…yep, nope no ghosting. If you don’t know what I’m talking about…forget it.

You will have a space to store your clay and tools. No one goes in your space unless absolutely necessary. There is a place to hang coats and store purses and a working bathroom too! Feel free to park in the driveway. Just tuck on in. When the weather permits it you can park on the street if you want, the neighbors already think I’m dealing drugs anyway with all the cars coming and going.

We will see you soon. We really do have lots of fun in the studio and we welcome you to the clay family.