Nov 26, 2009

ceramics from a beginner

Long ago, in the lonely town of Palo Alto, my friend Donna and I took a ceramics class. I don't remember much about it other than being completely disheartened after my few attempts at the wheel. I have nothing to show from that class, and that's probably a good thing.

Twenty plus years later I'm taking a class with the City of Scottsdale. My teacher is a laid back and very accomplished ceramic artist, and a great instructor. Along with a few other middle-aged women (and one fascinating 87 year old and her small dog), I've learned from the earth up. We've made pinch pots, experimented with slab building, created spheres, and learned texturing and a little glazing.

I like things to look organic and textural. Perfection is not really my aim when it comes to hand-built things.

My first pinch pot, made the first night, is lopsided and an ugly color since I just used the glaze the woman next to me had chosen. Yet somehow it satisfies me. It's currently holds our spare change. It's an improvement over the cracked plastic drinking glass I had been using.

The next assignment was to create a bunch of small balls and two pinch pots. The two hemispheric pinch pots were joined together to make a sphere. The balls were placed inside to create a rattle. I misunderstood the directions and instead of texturing the surface, I glazed the whole thing. The teacher was pretty sure it would blow up in the kiln, but it survived! It makes a beautiful soft sound and I dig the stripes.

The last piece worth mentioning is another pinch pot that I textured. I like how the glaze darkened and really took on a totally different hue where it pooled in the depressions on the surface. It sits on my kitchen counter and holds my grape tomatoes.

So last Monday evening-- after experiencing the usual guilt of leaving the kids to complete their homework without me, and Scott to feed everyone based on the paltry contents of the refrigerator -- I was thinking 'this better be worth it' as I headed out to class (at the local senior center). It was! I spent the entire three hours on the wheel and made three respectable bowls. This teacher is good -- she conveyed all the nuances of positioning your hands. I finally slowed down, tried hard, and did it!

In a few weeks time, I should have some other things to post - less organic and probably more balanced. Please check back.

Finally, I bought myself an early birthday present. I had been keeping my eye on some different and utterly beautiful pots at the Desert Botanical Garden's gift shop. They announced a sale and I jumped at the chance. (They are not cheap pots.)

The artist is Mike Cone. This coming weekend is the second of two art studio shows called Hidden in the Hills. This artist will be showing so I'm hoping to go see him in action and discover what else he creates. I'm all for inspiration at this point.

p.s. Thanks, Kristin, for reminding me I have a blog.


  1. The pots look great! You have to start somewhere, right? Looking forward to seeing next week's pots. Love, A.

  2. Love it!
    Happy Thanksgiving! - I am giving thanks that you blogged!

  3. Beautiful things B! Love to hear that you are taking time for yourself! I'm so glad you are back to blogging, miss you. Be watching your mailbox for an early bday present. Love, Melissa