I've decided to spend a little bit of time talking about clay. Pottery to be exact. I've been posting a lot of pictures on instagram and Facebook and the positive feedback is great. I've actually been doing some form of pottery for about 10 years on and off, so it's become a pretty integral part of my life. It's been such an integral part of my life that I don't really talk about it that much. Or, I don't talk about how I got started and how I actually have quite a history with pottery, so I figure might as well start sharing now.
In 8th grade I took my first ceramics class. We made hand built pieces (so nothing involving the pottery wheel) that ranged from basic rattles to plates of food to slab form vessels. All pretty basic stuff. I like to consider that first class Mr.Huntoon's weed out class. If you can't take the time and have the patience to make a vase out of slabs (a process that would take at least 3 classes), then you definitely did not have the patience to work with the wheel (something that is still really challenging for me).
Obviously something stuck because I worked in the studio in some form or fashion for my entire high school career. My teacher, Gary Huntoon (go google his stuff, he makes some pretty amazing pieces) and I had a great relationship. We have a very similar sense of humor, so when he called my first thrown pot a door post, I laughed, a lot. Because let's be real, that's about all that piece of junk was good for.
The studio door was only locked after school hours, so I would head on in and work on the wheel whenever I could make time. Just to be clear, I made a lot of time. During the summer I would go up to Parish to work on projects and keep building up that muscle memory on the wheel. In retrospect I was pretty spoiled. I had free clay, free class time, free glazes and a free teacher. Mr.Huntoon is a talented, extremely creative potter who recognized my passion and decided to foster it.
So, when I was at freshman orientation at Rhodes and was told that they did not have a ceramics program I called home and told my mom that I needed to transfer immediately. (Un)Fortunately my mom's logic won out, I could do things back in Dallas at Mr. Huntoon's studio and if I really wanted to take ceramics I should have checked on that BEFORE freshman orientation. The summer after my freshman and sophomore year of college I would spend some time with Mr. Huntoon at his studio, working on pieces, spending time with him, his wife and their two little Japanese Chin puppies. Then, Mr. Huntoon decided to up and move to North Carolina. So for the next two summers I didn't touch any clay. Granted, during that time I did live abroad, pursue some great career building opportunities and fine tune my writing, BUT I didn't get my hands in any clay for two years.
During my YAV year we spent some time talking about 'self care' and what that looks like for each individual. As we were talking about what brings us joy, I kept circling back to pottery. It was a big risk, walking into a class full of strangers with a teacher that I didn't know, but at some point you have to take the plunge. I am so glad I did. I started my first class at Hands in Clay studio in November of 2013. I have not missed a single session since. It's more expensive this time around (what do you mean I have to actually pay for supplies?!), but I absolutely love the community that comes along with working in that studio.
There are very few things that consistently fulfill me spiritually, emotionally and physically. Working on the wheel surrounded by kick-ass people does the trick every time. I know that sounds kind of crazy, but there is something so immensely satisfying about centering a piece of clay, or having sore shoulders because you've decided to throw with more clay than you're used to. Or finally getting a piece out of the kiln and having the studio owner leave a compliment on a post-it note on your shelf (that's happened approximately twice since I've started taking classes there, something I consider an accomplishment). Wednesdays are my favorite days because I know that for two and half hours I get to hang out in the studio and (attempt) to make something beautiful and unique. I started working with this red clay at the end of the December, I can babble on for hours about it. If you want the nitty gritty details, let me know. For now, I've compiled most of the pieces I've made the past few months. I know they're floating around the internet, but they aren't all in a single place so I figured it was time to do that. Also, sorry about the formatting. Blogger is only so good with pictures.
|Mug phase 1|
|Also learning how to carve things into things|
|Glazing, the final step before the finished product|
|Another finished lidded vessel|
|Vessel with lid|
|And without lid!|
|The finished product|
|Nothing more satisfying than eating breakfast out of a bowl I made|
|Yep, even made a couple of little hedgehogs.|