Wheel 101

Challenging my mind is something I want to do for forever. I use to do that through working and reading. However the past few years it’s been about learning new skills. Last year was aerial (something I am still doing) and this year is Pottery - Wheel 101.

When an ad popped up on my instagram I look at it and then thought there was no way I could ever do that. It’s dirty. And OMG is it ever dirty. So I moved on and forgot about it. A few months later it popped up again. This time though I was curious and flipped through to see the cost. OUCH it’s pretty expensive too. The third time though, I was at a point where the only thing I was doing was working out and I was tired. I was slowly coming to the realization that I need to do something not fitness related. So I checked out the class schedule. Then realized that we were doing so much traveling that I won’t be able to take a class until January. Now I am not a person who looks at something and wonders how it was made. Or the type of person who just loves homemade things. In fact I would almost say I’m the opposite. I have an aesthetic that I like and I always regret when I break from that look. Homemade items don’t usually fall into the category I enjoy and pottery is also one of those things that has always been “muh” to me. I am also not a fan of being dirty or having short nails, or waiting. So I am not sure if it is advertising at work here or boredom (probably both) but I signed up and then just had to wait for it to start.

January came and that first class I came home filthy but completely satisfied. With fitness, the results of a class are very different. It’s an emotional feeling, a feel good feeling, your body may or may not change over time (mine certainly hasn’t), and the only thing you get out of it is personal satisfaction and maybe a few pictures. You come home bone tired, muscles aching, and craving food. This is the exact opposite. There is no feel emotional high after a class. You do get a results but it takes weeks of effort to come into fruition and then it’s a solid thing. You have to select your clay, mold it, slice it, fire it, color it, and fire it again. There are dozens and dozens of steps to remember and practice. There’s no recording it so you can remember the sequencing for next time (like I do for aerial), it’s just simply repeat and repeat and repeat until this physical action becomes second nature.

My first round of classes was six weeks long, with the option to come in on student days for doing whatever. I didn’t take advantage of that and I play to change that next time around. I did stay late a few times. And out of everything I threw I ended up with four winners by the end. This is two of them. Left image is my very first plate. It is 7 inches across and I made the line possible with scotch taped and then dipped half in shiny black glaze and half shiny white. It turned out so much better than I could have pictured. I wish the white was a little bit darker but otherwise it’s exactly as I pictured it. The lines turned out great except on the sides but that’s purely due to my distraction in getting it right on top. The middle and right image is a very shallow bowl, done in matte white. There are a few things with this one, my shaping isn’t perfect on the inside, it’s a bit of a dip puddle shape, but that will get fixed with practice. When I dipped the glaze I didn’t rub in the dots well enough so it’s thicker on those parts (see middle picture right side) and I also didn’t hold it in the glaze long enough to fully cover the back side. I want to be frustrated with how the clay is coming through but at the same time it’s pretty and for my first piece I think it turned out pretty darn well.

This third piece is a bit different. When I started it, I had a particular person in mind. From start to finish this piece has just felt like her. The color reminds me of her, the look of toughness this piece holds reminds me of how strong she is. But it’s also pottery and is fragile too. Each step of the way my mind was thinking about her holding this cup in the morning and enjoy a cold something. Ironically it’s a mug and meant for hot drinks but that is never what I pictured. I’ve never made something with such a strong feeling behind it. Each week I would come in, stressed that someone would have bumped it off the shelf or somehow one of my other pieces would gotten too close and ruined it. The week I had to trim I almost cried, but it went perfectly. I worked on that handle for four hours, getting the braid just right, then the position, then attaching it. Once it was attached I was worried it won’t hold, but it did. Then it didn’t break through the first firing. I didn’t drop it during the glaze aspect and the final fire went perfectly. Finally my piece was complete and it is perfect. The last step is to mail it across the country and hope it arrives in one pieces!

The fourth pieces is finished but I have a plan for it and until it comes into fruition, it’s debut onto the blog will have to wait! Until then I’ve already started round two of Wheel 101. I don’t know what I’ll be making this time. But I’m excited for the adventure. This was challenging in ways I didn’t expect and don’t know how to express fully but I’m going to keep working on it until I get it figured out.

Have you ever tried pottery? Which pieces is your favorite?

SIDE NOTES: 365 Project does show more of the making process on days 22, 29, 36, 64, and 71.

I'm a lifestyle blogger, covering deep subjects including body images, battles with food, and overcoming how I was raised. I try to be as authentic as possible and I don’t sugar coat how I see things.