Friday, August 19, 2011

Adventures in Pottery

Hoping to expand my crafting horizons and pass a Friday night in an enjoyable fashion I recently took a trial pottery class (“on the wheel”, I think they call it) with my friend Olivia. It was, I must tell you, quite harder than I expected, but very pleasant.  The very kind and patient teachers instructed us in the proper methods, then set us free to do as we wished.  I made one bowl and felt quite proud of myself.  Aiming for both great quantity and quality to come out of my 20 dollar fee and 2 hour time limit, I quickly began my next piece. I thought to myself “This time I will make a taller bowl.” Despite my best efforts, I had produced a bowl of remarkable similarity to my first piece. In fact, if I had been trying to make a matching bowl, I do not think I could have done better.  The instructor came to assist me in removing the twin bowl from my wheel, and said “All right, you’ve got bowls down, Now this time make a cup.”  
“Yes!” I thought to myself.  I will make a cup! This will be very different. No chance of  a repeat performance here.” I bit my lower lip in concentration and centered my clay on the wheel, mentally repeating the 5 steps I’d been taught so as not to forget the proper methods. I centered, I made the little hole with my thumb, I pulled it out, I collared it, I pinched and pulled it up, all while my wheel spun along happily.  I tried, and tried, and tried.  “Up!” I thought. “You must get taller! You are a cup, Sir!” I silently ordered my clay. The base too wide, the sides too long; this was no cup.  

Yes, I had made another bowl, although it was ever so slightly taller than its older siblings.

Time was up, and I sat down at the table to decorate my pieces.  Being unskilled in this particular art, I bear myself no ill will for my slip color choices, although, were I to do this again, I’d leave off the white.  We left our treasured pieces with the instructor, who promised us a call when they were ready.

A week or so later we set out to collect our self-made treasures, unsure what we might find.  We were each presented with a big paper bag, our pieces carefully wrapped inside.  We coolly accepted our parcels and walked out of the studio, our pace quickening as we headed to the car. 
“I can’t wait to see it!” I admitted “Let’s look at it before we start driving” I said.
“Um, OF COURSE” Olivia returned.

We sat there, baking in the warm summer oven my car turns into during August as we carefully removed our bounty from its elegant protection of Banner-Herald castoffs.
Olivia, you see, had actually succeeded in making 3 things which could be distinguished from one another; a bowl, a taller, more narrow bowl, and a rather charming little vase which she accomplished by abandoning the proscribed methods and following her own little potter’s heart.  I wish I had pictures to show you, her things were very cool looking.

Now, I do not intend to imply I was in anyway dissatisfied with my own efforts.  I admit I was quite enthralled with following the methods I was taught, and even in that short 2 hours imagined myself becoming some sort of master potter respected far and wide.  My three little bowls came out well for a first attempt, and I shall let you see them for yourself presently.

The moral of this story, I suppose, is three-pronged, like a grounded electrical plug:
  1. It is fun to try something new, especially with a good friend.
  2. Pottery is not particularly easy, and in fact requires a fair amount of upper body strength, a steady hand, and a good measure of patience.
  3. It may take longer than 2 hours to master this craft.

I really enjoyed it, and should my schedule ever allow it, will probably take the beginner’s class. 

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