Saturday, May 14, 2011

Playing in the Mud......and Notes to Santa

I'm not a quitter, not by a long-shot, but I almost dropped out of my pottery classes for 2 reasons. One was the 9 AM time slot on Monday mornings, dealing with Little Rock traffic, and it has rained/stormed almost every Monday since I started, and then there were 2 weeks of flooding when I could have gotten to class by way of Dallas but opted to stay home with Marley who's terrified of storms. I'm a country girl, and while I can drive in crazy traffic, it's no fun for me, and these days, if it ain't fun, why bother?

The second reason was that all we've made in class are boring little 3 inch pinch pots, slab boxes, and coiled pots, and they're just dynamically ugly! This is the hand-building class, and they won't let us touch the throwing wheel till next semester. (I wonder why they call it throwing; seems to me it should be a spinning wheel. I guess the yarn makers already glommed onto that name.......but I digress.) Anyway this week, I brought home some of my clay and made a few pieces on my own. Duh! Of course this is why they teach us the techniques on ugly little pots, so we can transfer them to pieces we might actually want to claim.

I fell totally in love with my clay this week, even though it's an absolute hassle that everything has to dry, in stages, but not too quickly, and then be wrapped and boxed and precariously carted back to the Arts Center for firing, glazing and firing again. Before the first firing, it's so fragile you could pick up a piece and push your thumb right through it. I really wish I had my own kiln! Are you listening, Santa?

This little log with roses on it was my first pottery creation on my own. I've made tons of roses in cake frosting and in paper sculptures, but trust me, clay is easier. It has a lot of little sticking-out petals and leaves that I'll worry about in the firing process because we don't get to do that ourselves. Seriously, Santa, I need that kiln!

I made a bunch of these little herb plant markers. They're sorta messy but will be just fine hanging from wires in my herb beds; I need to buy some letters for stamping words in clay. When I die, the art and craft supply dealers are gonna miss me.

I'm not sure what this is........but it's not horrible. When it's dry, it will all be pale gray. The dark middle is where it's not quite dry yet. I just rolled it out and stamped the image of an old plastic Christmas place mat into it and then draped it over wadded up newspapers in a free-form fashion. It'll be interesting to see how well it glazes....or not. Oh, and I also need a slab roller, but for now, a rolling pin on a canvas covered board works fine.

This is a vase, about 10 inches high, that I made by wrapping a slab around a pretzel jar, and then I stamped leaf patterns all over it, played with the edges and added little strips to look like toggle buttons, and when it was stiff enough but not completely dry, I slipped it off the jar and added a bottom.

If you've ever made a lattice top on an apple pie, you know this technique. I'm liking this bowl; it's about 4 inches deep and 8 inches wide at the top. I cut strips from a slab, using a fettling knife, but it would be really cool to have an extruder. Uh, Santa.

And here is what I was working my way up to, and had no idea if I could do it, but she turned out not half bad. Anyway, she's a beginning, and I'm sure Jane will point out areas where I could have used better techniques. I predict more figurines in my future. I would have loved to have a banding wheel, so I could turn the piece as I worked on it, but I managed with just a small plastic board....still, it would be nice to have that banding wheel.....if a certain someone is listening.

My week went whizzing by, and I'd wake up each morning thinking of what I could make in clay. Marley hates it when I play with clay because he doesn't do loud noises, and I'm always pounding or slamming the slabs of clay around, and he takes off for his bed in the kitchen. But the storms had a positive outcome for him. He now sleeps in the bed with us full time. He gets so overcome with happiness and gratitude at bedtime we haven't had the heart to tell him not tonight, and anyway, he's a very good boy, and if he gets shoved by a foot during the night, he just scooches over and goes back to his soft little snoring....and besides I have cold feet. Shih Tzus are very warm.

I'll share more of my work as I progress, and I'll show you how these look after firing and glazing. My first attempt at glazing ugly pots was pretty awful. I guess it's true; you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Wish me luck with these, and I'd welcome any suggestions as to colors.
Marley and I are so glad you stopped by!
Cat & Marley

P.S. I looked up the term, and here's what I found. I still think it should be a spinning wheel.
The Old English word thrawan from which to throw comes, means to twist or turn. Going back even farther, the Indo-European root *ter- means to rub, rub by twisting, twist, turn. The German word drehen, a direct relative of to throw, means turn and is used in German for throwing. Because the activity of forming pots on the wheel has not changed since Old English times, the word throw has retained its original meaning in the language of pottery but has developed a completely different meaning in everyday usage.

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