New pattern: The very adaptable Joan
Crafts get the cookery show treatment

Throwing, pinching, scratching and slabs - a taste of ceramics

As a maker and craft teacher, I really enjoy having the time to learn new skills or crafts.

One that I've fancied testing out for a while is ceramics, especially learning to use a wheel. So when fellow teacher and maker told me about an opportunity to take part in a group taster session she was arranging at The Kiln Rooms I was very excited and signed up right away.

The four hour session was divided into two parts. For the first half we concentrated on using the wheel and then learned about other techniques which meant we each had about and hour and a half actually attempting to throw our own pots.

We started with a demonstration of throwing techniques, including centring the clay (much tougher than it looks), creating an central well and raising and shaping the sides.

Throwing demoIn the hands of an experienced potter a mug or bowl seems to 
grow very easily.

Our tutor explained the various stages and showed us various ways the pot might go wrong and how to try to avoid these problems. Then it was up to us to slam down our own lumps of clay (slamming is important to avoid your clay just spinning off) and give it a go. 

When I am teaching people to knit or bead, I often talk about how we learn from mistakes and that practice is important so that we learn how a material behaves. This is certainly true when it comes to a lump of clay on the wheel. As you practice and the clay doesn't always do what you expect you start to get some feel for controlling it. If only a little in the time available. I also managed to wear as much clay as I threw.

Over the practice time I managed to produce two pot-like objects which are now going to be fired. 

My first throw

In the second half of the class we learned about different ways of moulding pots and plates - pinch pots, using coils and moulds, and building walls. We also had a chance to work with coloured slip.

Ceramics otherPinch pot, moulded dish from slab clay flattened using a roller
table and an attempt at sgraffito, hand scatching a design through
coloured clay.

My two pots and my plate will be fired in the next couple of weeks and I will very excited to see the results.