Big News!

This is probably only a huge deal to me, because I’m weird like that, but I also believe in celebrating even the little successes!

After hemming and hawing a whole bunch, I worked up the nerve to submit a studio potter application with La Mano.  I’ve been approved!  HOORAY!  This basically means that I get my own shelf at the studio (mostly to store tools, since I’ll probably throw more than I can fit on the shelf…!), access to glazes that I wasn’t allowed to use as a student, off-hour access to the studio itself, and the opportunity to self-direct my learning.  I am so excited and I actually stayed Friday after my shift for the inaugural studio potter throwing session!  I was there a lot later than I planned; I got a bunch of stuff trimmed and threw a few pots for my first big project: cylinders.

Cylinders, you say incredulously?  But those are so simple!

Yes.  Cylinders are pretty much the most basic form you can learn to throw, but I think that since now, moving forward, I am in charge of how I learn, the first thing I’m going to do is learn the bejesus out of every form I already know how to throw.  That probably sounds counterintuitive, but I find that because pottery is so much about muscle-memory, the only real way to know how to do it is to do it over and over and over and over and over.  And over, for good measure.  So, I’m starting a project I’m calling the 100 Series.  Starting with cylinders, I will throw 100 pots of a certain form and then move on to the next so that I can know, as intimately as possible, how to throw that particular form.  I’ve done 7 cylinders so far and will post pictures of them when they come through the glaze kiln.  After cylinders, who knows?  Maybe it’ll be bowls or closed forms – whatever strikes my fancy when I’ve had enough of throwing cylinders!  And of course, the nice thing about any form is that even though the basic structure is the same, there are so many ways that you can shape it and change it to make it unique that I doubt I’ll actually get bored.

So, hooray!  Another step closer to being a better potter.  ^_^

And now, for a photo parade!  I’ve got lots of pictures of things I’ve been working on (now finished) that I’ll be posting here.  I think I’m even missing a few.  Be warned, this is a photo-heavy post.  Here there be pottery porn!

First up, a planter.  This is a double-walled vessel, meaning that it has two walls pulled up from the same lump of clay.  I didn’t throw a bowl and a plate and then attach the two (though I have done that before) – this was  made from one piece of clay.  It was a little challenging and it’s something that will definitely come later as part of the 100 Series, since I’m not comfortable at all with producing something like this more than a couple of times yet.  Would like to be able to do them in my sleep.  ^.^

Sadly the glaze isn’t done a lick of justice by the picture.  It’s such a beautiful, smooth green.  Almost the color of moss.  And the darker grey (gunmetal) is slightly iridescent.  It’s just lovely.

Incidentally, this piece is available for sale on Etsy.  /shameless plug

Here’s another double-walled vessel, which I intended to be a planter and came out as something quite different (this is why I want to practice making the same thing over and over again…!  Consistency, people!):

Isn’t the glaze just delicious?!  This is easily my favorite combination right now.  I’d say expect to see it often, but it doesn’t work as well on the brown clay body that we have at the studio, and these days I’ve been working almost exclusively in brown.  Maybe I’ll make a switch back to white for cylinders 51-100.  ^.^;

For more pictures (or to purchase this item!), see the listing on Etsy!

Here are a few pieces I threw as gifts.  I’ll be shipping them hopefully this week to their rightful owners; I promised hand-made goodies to a few folks on Facebook back in the beginning of the year and I’m finally making good on it!

This is the same glaze combination for the planter.  I really, really like it.  Unfortunately the gunmetal is SUPER not food safe, so it can really only go on the outside of things, or on things that are decorative, like this teensy closed form.  I really enjoy making these.  They’re quick and easy and adorable, and do very well just sitting in the windowsill.  I have a couple I threw for myself early on that soak up sunlight in my windows.  *love*

Another one:

Uber tiny, these little guys were thrown off the hump because centering that small a piece of clay on the wheel head would be an enormous pain in the ass.  ^.^;;  Love the richness of the red glaze, but probably won’t use it much again in the future… the results have just been a little too inconsistent for my taste.  And I’m happy (usually) with glazing accidents, but when they get in the way of making a piece viable as either a gift or a sale item it makes me a little sad.  Observe:

Totally fine apart from the top of the piece, which appears to have touched another piece while it was firing.  If you look in the third photo, there’s a weird bareness on the top that I can’t explain, especially because this glaze tends to run thick and I’m always really careful to thin it out if it looks like there’s too much on the bisque ware.  I’m also not thrilled with this because it’s a lot heavier than I wanted it to be and the shape is a little weird.  I thought I’d be able to sell it, but I don’t feel comfortable selling something that I don’t even really want to keep for myself.  ^.^;;  So sad.  I think of all of the things I’ve made at the studio this one is the first piece I am genuinely unhappy with.  Ah, well.

But!  On the heels of that comes probably the most amazing thing I’ve ever done with clay.  Talk about an odyssey!  I have these days at the studio where all I can hear in my head is “go big or go home!” and these days always result in massively failed attempts at throwing something larger than a mug.  But this piece is a result of a successful “go big or go home” day.  I’m in love with this thing.  So much so that I’m almost afraid to cook with it, lest it be ruined, but I very lovingly threw, trimmed, and glazed this piece, and when it came out of the glaze kiln, the lid was stuck to the bottom and I almost died because I thought it was ruined… but then a friend showed me how to get the lid off (gently!) and now I have this amazing, beautiful, hand-made casserole.  Win, win, win!

I got a little carried away taking pictures of it.  Feel free to skip to the bottom if this sort of thing… isn’t your thing.  ^.^;;

So… anyone have any recipe suggestions?  ^.^;;

That’s all for today, folks!  I hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures.  This is work that I’m really proud of – especially this last piece – and I’m excited to share it with the world.  If nothing else, potting makes me feel extremely relaxed and happy, and if I’ve got that sort of energy flowing into me, I can put it back out into the universe for other people to share, too.  Here I am hoping that you feel at least a little bit of that.

As always, comments and critiques are welcome!  In the meanwhile, I shall go back to contemplating my next few pots for the 100 Series.

In mud,

N

About SacredSpiralPottery

I am a novice potter who was blessedly introduced to clay in January of 2011. I've become totally addicted to mud and all of its amazing properties, and spend a good deal of time working on my own projects and helping out at a small private studio in Jersey City.
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9 Responses to Big News!

  1. Laura Weldon says:

    I’m so glad to find your blog. Your work is an inspiration, especially to an artsy dreamer like me who just can’t find the time or creative ooompf to do the actual making. I truly believe, as you say, that doing what makes you feel relaxed and happy helps to put that energy out into the world. It takes seeing beauty to make beauty.

  2. Max says:

    Congrats, and beautiful work! I’m glad you decided to do the studio thing!

  3. sandcastle1015 says:

    Nice pieces!!! I am most impressed with the double walled vessels. Your talents are growing by leaps and bounds. The casserole is absolutely stunning!!! Well done!!

  4. Your work is stunning! Thank you so much for sharing!

    I took a ceramics class once and was AWFUL at it. I could never figure out how to get the clay centered properly on the wheel. So needless to say, I have a very high appreciation of artist who CAN make the incredible works that you do. Keep up the good work!

    • Thank you so much for the kind comment! ^_^ I’m glad you like.

      Centering is definitely difficult! It’s one of those things that I’m constantly working at (I dread the day when I finally sit down to throw with porcelain… it will be like re-learning how to walk!), and it’s what I see total beginners really struggling with. I was really lucky, though… I started out with some really amazing teachers!

      Thanks again!! I will happily keep potting and sharing! ^_^

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