Sunday, January 11

Back to School

Wild and free in the clay soot and ash of the ceramics studio, I was a child of the kiln. My father was an active participant in a ceramics studio in our little mountain town, and I was right at home watching the kilns fire up and cool down.

This photo is of me as a smiling toddler at a ceramics firing. Even then I loved the process of ceramics. Though back then I'm sure what I loved most was an excuse to get dirty.

I took ceramics in High School, and again in college, but studios and supplies are expensive. As an independent adult I simply fell out of practice, though never out of touch with the medium. During most of my previous ceramics classes I primarily worked as a sculptor and hand builder. Somewhere along the line I had convinced myself that I wasn't ready for wheel throwing. It wasn't until my final semester of school that I finally started to explore the possibilities of wheel throwing, and by then I was almost done with my undergraduate degree. My one regret has always been that I hadn't worked more to improve my skills as a potter.

The good news is that there is no age limit to learning new skills, and I have been given the chance to resume ceramics lessons. This year for Christmas, after seven years without touching clay, I was given a gift card to a local ceramic studio.

My first lesson was exciting, I was focused on the lesson, but my thoughts were scattered. I knew how to wedge my clay, I knew how to center my clay. Truly, I knew the basic principles I needed to open up my bowl and pull it into shape, but I kept questioning myself. I watched the instructor demonstrate, but I felt shaky about hand placement, sponge use, and how much water to use. My first bowl ended up thick and uneven, a reflection of my state of mind.

My second bowl was a little better. Still thick, but I felt more confident.

My third bowl started to reflect my more confident mindset. It had thinner walls, an even rim, and a nice shape. Everything was starting to flow better, and I felt calmer about the process.
My final bowl of the day was my favorite.
I have been practicing regularly since last Monday, because practice is really the best way to get better. Not everything works out, but that is sort of the beauty of the process. My first bowl of a session tends to be wobbly and uneven, but as I continue through each practice session, I get results that make me happier.

In this picture you will see my first bowl of the day and my last bowl of the day, ordered from right to left.

This one was so beautiful, I was almost afraid to take it off the wheel.
My next class is tomorrow, I'm excited to get back into that little yellow studio.

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