Wednesday, December 27, 2017

My turn at pottery class

Chris had such a great time at his pottery class that we bought a kick wheel so we could turn at home. It quickly became apparent that I could benefit from some formal instruction as well, so I signed up at the studio for a beginner's wheel class. 

Looks like a bowl to me...
I learned an amazing amount and I'm proud to say that the quality of my items improved dramatically as class went on (in large part because Taylor, our instructor, was great). If anyone is interested in a pottery class I can't recommend Saratoga Clay Arts Center highly enough (no sponsorship, just loved the studio). And if you turn or hand-build at home but don't have a kiln, they charge for firing by the piece.

These pieces have been trimmed and bisque kilned, just waiting for glazing.
Salt pig, succulent planter, dram tumbler
Glazing was a bit overwhelming. There is a huge wall of example tiles and an amazing number of glazes available to you. Taylor warned us to keep good notes on what glazes we used so we'd be able to decide what we liked on the finished pieces. Why would that be important? Because the glaze goes on looking totally different from the color/finish it becomes after firing. All the reds on the pieces below? Some were black. Some were purple. Some were, indeed, red.
Trying to keep track of what glazes went where
I took good notes but ultimately too many of my pieces were basically the same shape (wine coaster, dram tumbler, ring bowl) and it was hard to match them up to the list. Next time I'll take a photo of the raw pieces and write my glazing choices right on the page (learned this from one of the more experienced potters; she keeps a binder of her work). No matter what though, realize that glazing is truly an art and you're never positive what you'll get. Much depends on where it's placed in the kiln and how the heat impacts the glaze. One time it might look one way, another time, quite different.
Some(!) of the haul
I did many wine bottle coasters and ring bowls for the family for Christmas and you want a nice smooth bottom so they don't scratch the table.  The glaze can leave some slightly sharp edges so you use sandpaper or a sanding disk to smooth them. It's really more a polish than a true sanding.
Smoothing the bottoms
In all, it was a great class and I had a lot of fun. I've still got a lot to learn and I definitely need to improve my technique but Chris and I will have a great time figuring it all out on our own wheel. Now we just have to get it set up in the studio.

Oh - and remember that red and green salt pig above? Yup, black and green now. And look at the garlic roaster! It was pale and uniform - now purple and two tone.
Garlic roaster, tumblers, salt pig, bowl, coasters

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