This past September I started a pottery class. I've always wanted to try making stuffs out of clay and when my lovely lady friend Jia asked if I'd be interested the answer was a very yes!
The class was down at a studio called Clay Design on Harbord Street and Brunswick Ave in Toronto. It was an all levels welcome class, which was perfect because I had only ever played with clay as a child. There were about 10 of us in the class but only three that were beginners. We started super easy (but super necessary to get used to handling the clay) making mugs out of slabs. We played with coloured slip and making stencils. And I played with the extent I could make something that resembled a 'mug'... Hah. We moved on to making slab dishes using stamps and rounded plaster. And then we tried our hand at glazing too. All in all, it went very well.
But then we moved on to the pottery wheel.
There is a mystique to the Pottery Wheel. It looks So easy, to whip wet clay into a bowl or tall cylinder. But let me tell you - It's super not. Our teacher, who is a professional, can throw a piece in about 3 minutes. First try, it took me about a half hour to have anything that was remotely bowl-like, and it would collapse if you poked it wrong. It takes a surprising amount of upper body control to centre the clay on the wheel. (Note to self: Add 'potters' to the list of people to never get into a fight with.) And if the clay isn't centred then you may as well go back to slab mugs. The motion of 'pulling' the clay up into a shape is very slow and smooth. So, if you're super spazzy like me it's a bit of an exercise in concentration and focus. (Seriously good physical therapy though.) I did manage to make one bowl! 1 out of 3 throws on my first wheel day, not bad for a beginner.... she tells herself.
The next week we worked on trimming out bowls. Essentially, shaping the base of the bowl because there is no access to it on the wheel. The process is to centre the bowl on the wheel, fasten it down and then using a trimming tool, skim off the excess clay. Again. Centring clay on the wheel is a magic that I will never possess. The end result is pretty amazing though!
Anyway. I've got Way much more respect for people who throw their own pottery. Those prices on handmade pottery pieces now make A Lot more sense. It's hard to make! And the owners at Clay Design are Amazing teachers. I've learned so much, about pottery but also about my own erratic hands. I will probably stick to knitting and whisking but it was a great experience to have. Defs Recommend!
The Half-Assed Hobbyist