I’m taking the “exploring clay” ceramics class through the Office for the Arts at Harvard with teacher Kathy King (one of the funniest people I’ve ever met!) this semester. Yes I know, “another craft, Candice?” you ask.
It’s going to be spread out over 12 Fridays and I’m excited about learning throwing skills, trying different glazes, and basically to get down right dirty working with clay. Am I a geeky crafter? Um, yes unfortunately.
There are almost 20 people in the class (I think) and it’s comprised of mostly women. Five of them are my coworkers from the museum, each of us with varying degrees of experience with clay. What’s so great about the ceramics program (or at least, one of the many great things …) is that as a student you have access to the studio space seven days a week as long as a staff member is present (which we were told is just about all the time). I have a feeling there are going to be some long Friday nights spent at the wheel this spring. 🙂
We started out by doing introductions around the room where we said our name, how much experience we’ve had working with clay, and what (if anything) we were looking forward to in the class. Normally I cringe when it comes time for these type of icebreakers, but maybe because it was based on an art form, it was interesting to hear everyone’s answers. When it came time for me to speak, I said my name, that I had taken a pottery class back in middle school when I was about 12 years old, and that I was a coffee addict so my goal is to make a nice coffee mug. Everyone laughed and then it was on to the next person.
What I really wanted to say was how I had a pretty horrific experience with a pottery wheel back then. My dad and stepmom allowed me to sign up for a pottery class at a community center not too far from our house. I remember being so excited about going to this class – all by myself – and riding my bicycle there. I was so excited – again, in my own geeky way! – that I didn’t pay that close attention to the teacher and I could’ve sworn she said not to put water on the wheel.
So here I am, a little 12-year-old, overly excited about making something out of a mound of clay and watching it spin and spin and spin. And then I noticed blood on the wheel. Realizing: that is my blood. I was so engrossed in what I was doing that I didn’t even feel the pain.
And that’s when the teacher walked over to me and said that I was supposed to wet the clay with water, and I think she had a real mortified look on her face. Needless to say, I biked home crying because I wouldn’t be able to go back to the class until my hand healed up (let’s just say I removed a lot of skin) and I felt so stupid.
But I thought about it for about ten seconds tonight and decided not to freak out the entire class with my sob story. Note to self: be sure to put water on the wheel when it comes time to throw clay!
For our first project tonight, we learned how to wedge clay and then flatten it out to create a tumbler that was based on a deconstructed Starbucks grande cup. It felt really cool to work with the clay and at times it was a nice way of releasing stress and tension because we had to slap the disk onto our work surface, knead it, and sometimes just pound it out. I used one of Kathy’s pottery stamps from Korea to create marks on the sides, and I can’t wait to see what it will look like glazed and fired.
To see more photos from this ceramics class (more will be added as the semester progresses), click here.