Thank you for signing up for a class at The Pottery Studio! We hope everyone had a great first class. There is a lot of information to take in during class 1, so we have compiled a helpful guide to refresh your memory, and to ensure this month is fun and fruitful for everyone.
Student Practice Hours: 10am-10pm
Student clay will be on the wedging table, just set up like you did on day 1 and begin practicing!
Leave everything cleaner than you found it!
Sometimes it's hard to remember the steps of throwing (wedging, coning up/down, centering, opening the floor, pulling the walls, and cutting off - and of course compressing the base and lip the whole way through!). These videos can help refresh your memory, and we suggest exploring youtube for other helpful videos - there are so many!
There are also some handy laminated step-by-step guides at the front of the studio that you can use.
During class #2 you will be trimming your pieces, but only if they are dry enough. Whenever you come in, it's a good idea to check on all your pieces; take your pieces from the shelf and remove the plastic. If they're still sticky & wet, they'll need to dry more before you can trim them. To dry more, let them air out for a bit while you're at the studio, then re-wrap them before you leave. You can leave gaps in the plastic to allow air flow to your piece, allowing it to dry a bit while you're not there but be careful of how much air you let in. You want them to dry enough that they're no longer sticky and the clay won't change shape if you press on it. If they're getting too dry (if they're turning a lighter color and have a dusty feel), give them a spray with water before wrapping them up air tight (no gaps in the plastic) so it can absorb the water. In class, your teacher will help you look at them to determine if they're ready to trim, and will go over trimming with the whole group.
This includes both the ram's head wedge and a spiral wedge
Notes about this video:
If you have problems with getting your clay to connect to the wheel and it keeps flying off... this video has a method to help.
The potter here says to get your wheel going at full speed. Full speed is not always necessary, especially for small balls of clay, but as you practice, you will find what works for you.
Notice that when she cones up, it's all about equal opposite pressure. If you end up with a "volcano" (clay dips down in the center), be very careful not to pinch the top of the cone and trap that air inside the clay. Starting with a nicely rounded top before coning up will help.
Notice that when she cones down, there is an outside hand pushing the clay from the side (this is what centers the clay), and the top hand is not pushing with the middle of her palm, nor a flat karate chop, but using the softer part at an angle.
The Clay Lady is a great youtube channel for beginners! Her explanations are clear and easy to follow. Feel free to dive into her youtube page to watch more of her videos.
Remember to always use a bat on top of the wheel when throwing in the studio, since the bat pins are left in permanently.
The way she opens her clay might be different than the way your teacher showed you, that’s ok! You'll learn in pottery that there are many ways to do the same thing, you just have to find the way that you're comfortable with.
She also uses pot lifters, which we don't have at our studio. You can either leave your piece on the bat if it's a large piece, or do the "hydroplane" method - put water on the bat, then using the wire tool pull the water under the pot while cutting off and hydroplane it to get it onto a new board or bat. (combine small pieces onto one board or bat- leave large or flat pieces on the bat after running a wire through the bottom)
In this video, the potter cuts the piece in half and opens it to show you what he's doing on the inside, so it will help you to see what your inside hand is doing.
This video does not explain centering. The potter centers his clay without coning up/down, but we suggest you practice the coning to help you achieve a better center (plus it’s just one more skill you’ll have!). First you'll see he runs his fingers along the base to make a seal, giving it downward pressure to make sure it's really anchored before moving on and centering it without coning up and down.
Then he opens with his thumb, which is one way to do it. Remember there are a few ways to open, but you should open with at least one hand outside the clay to stabilize it and open at an angle (not straight down).
This potter pulls up his wall with his outside hand, which may be different than you learned. Feel free to try this, or stick to the method you learned in class.
Pottery takes time to learn, and you need to put in the practice time to get better. And remember, it’s just clay! If you’re feeling timid about pushing that ball of clay, or pulling that wall, just say to yourself “it’s just clay! I can get another ball!” Much of our learning comes from pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones - it can lead to flops, but it can also lead to magnificent pieces.