I can really see how my limited skill as a potter has improved. Of course, I had no where to go but up. I don’t know how it happened but I was able to make some nice bowls that I can actually use as serving pieces. I also made a small plate on the wheel–I am told that plates are difficult. There were so many talented people in my class who made much more difficult pieces, but I am very pleased with the loot I brought home. I love the blue glaze and the red also turned out very rich. I tried some spotting for artistic effect with a white glaze and I kind of like it too.
Ever seen pictures of the aborigines where they are covered in white clay from head to toe? I looked at myself in the mirror after my latest pottery class and that is what I saw. White clay in my hair, on my face, halfway up my arms, and all over my clothes. A particulary messy passtime–but oh, so satisfying.
I am on my third round of pottery classes at Cahaba Clayworks. It had been a while due to a hectic fall and early winter. I thought I would forget alot of what I had learned, but it is like riding a bike (even if I am still on training wheels). Much came back and Larry (the teacher) was there to explain a couple new things. I am not sure where I am going with this round of classes but I hope to make better pieces than the last time and figure out how to see what the clay wants to become and shape it accordingly.
If you have the opportunity, get out there and get muddy.
I just returned from a trip to Corpus Christi, TX where I had the good fortune to meet Ed and Cornelia Gates of Aloe Tile Works. Walking into their shop was a totally random thing and so fortunate for me. They make custom tiles from red clay and paint them using a pigmented clay. Beautiful work that is garnering a lot of local interest in TX. They have done some very big tile mural projects for the state and schools and they do a lot of “ceramic certificate” work (plaques commemorating events). They also do custom tiles for home projects like backsplashes and bathrooms. They showed me beautiful crosses, Christmas ornaments, and mirrors they have custom made. Just beautiful!
Ed is the Potter there and Cornelia is an-ex lawyer turned artist/organizer of the place. (This is an over simplification, of course.) They were both so warm and generous with their time. They showed me around their Studebaker-garage-turned-pottery studio and the adjacent gallery which is housed in the showroom of the former dealership. Ed explained their processes and I asked a lot of questions. Both he and Cornelia were so generous with their time. I could have hung around for hours chatting and watching the processes.
A light bulb came on as to another reason (besides the availability of clay in some locales) why many great Potters take up residence on the coast. [ Shearwater /The Andersons for example] Ed says it is the humidity. This allows the artists more time to work with the clay without it drying out. So it comes down, again, to physics. If only my physics classes had explained the effect of this most basic science on real life rather than focusing on equations and fuzzy math.
Thanks Ed and Cornelia! You remind me that there are cool people doing what they love and creating beautiful/meaningful things all over the country.
I went to the grand opening of Cahaba Clayworks this evening. What a fun and totally enjoyable evening. There was a great jazz band [Rhythms Band, 205/837-2269], a wine consultant [Foster Smith, 205/908-174] providing a bit of education with some wonderful affordable wines from The Vintage Wine Shoppe , and pottery glazing and firing. I tasted a great Reisling that I plan to purchase. It was so wonderful to have arts and culture going on locally. I loved seeing my teachers and a few fellow students. I will be taking more classes this fall and hopefully creating more “masterpieces”. I encourage anyone to try pottery. It is a blast!
Oh, and I bought my first piece of art. Great feeling! Any other art I own is strictly amateur–created by me.
I took another 6 weeks of “mud wrestling” classes at Cahaba Clayworks. This time my instructor was the very talented Larry Allen. He is a wonderful teacher and I learned so much even though I had to miss a few weeks for travel. I was able to make actual bowls with sloped sides, get some elevation on conical structures, and do some shaping. I also learned a better method for centering and how to manipulate the clay a bit better with my clumsy fingers. Below is a picture of my latest work, minus two pieces that have not been fired yet—but you are not missing much—they are experiments in shaping.
I plan to take another course of classes with Larry later in the fall when my travel slows down. I want to take full advantage of all six weeks.