Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day two

On day two I used a staple gun and didn't injure my finger---that in itself is a huge accomplishment.

Part of the morning session was spent by creating a slab rolling station. We took large pieces of wood and adhered a "clay-friendly" fabric to them. Then, with staple guns we attached rulers (vertical) to the wood.  The idea is that when you use a dowel to roll out your clay, you will be able to know when your clay is flat enough. Throwing the clay slab and flattening it is not as easy as it looks. I quickly discovered that pottery requires quite a bit of hand strength. Whenever I would think my clay slab was flat enough, Deborah would point out that there should not be space between the dowel and the rulers.

Deborah showed us how to use tubes in order to create the bodies for mugs and pitchers. When attaching the "body" to the circular base, it is normal to have seam lines showing. One method of removing the seam lines is by using water and your fingers to smooth out the surface.

Deborah instructed us on a current trend (I feel like that's not the exact right word) in pottery: deconstruction. The idea is that the true art of pottery lies in the fact that a person is creating it, not some machine.  If the piece has visible seams, it is acceptable because it shows the handicraft behind the piece. For the rest of the day, whenever Tracey (another class participant) and I made mistakes, we would simply blurt out, "It's deconstruction."

In addition to showing us how to make the bodies and bases, Deborah also showed us how to add texture to the pieces. Adding texture was one of my favorite parts of the process. You basically take stampers (either rolling cake decorating stampers, rubber stamps, or homemade stamps) and indent the clay. She showed us how you could disguise a seam by adding texture.

While making the body and base of the mug was pretty easy, making the handle was exceptionally more difficult. When I watched Deborah make the handle, she made it look easy and the clay moved in her hands delicately.  I guess the true sign of a master is that he/she completes challenging tasks with the utmost of ease.

I felt frustrated at this point. It bothered me. Why could't I make a (seemingly) simple handle? If you do things correctly, the clay can glide through your fingers. I was challenged though--the awkward movement of the clay through my fingers reminded me of when I first tried ice skating. Instead of elegantly gliding on the ice, my feet staggered, moving forward, but then braking.

Even more challenging of an experience was when I created a pitcher. Again, the base and body were manageable. The handle was still challenging and, on top of that challenge, adding the spout was incredibly difficult. The spout's proportions looked awkward when compared to the rest of the pitcher.

Today was frustrating, but it made me have a personal connection to my students. I feel that I teaching writing pretty well. We read sample essays together, discuss the positive attributes of the writing pieces, use graphic organizers to pre-write, draft, and revise. I do all of the necessary instructional steps, just like Deborah. When students get frustrated, I now can relate to them. In all honesty, I've tried many diverse activities in life, but whenever I have been challenged, I have often quit. Cases in point include: playing the clarinet (when we got to the high notes, I quit band), rollerblading (I tried it for an hour and then gave up), and jewelry making (beading was easy enough, but creating links was hard and I would somehow always coax the instructor into doing the hard work for me).

What I love about aTi is that it gets me out of my comfort zone. Last year, I took the poetry class and while it had its challenging moments, nothing compares to the challenge I have felt with pottery. Deborah is an amazing instructor though. For the last part of the afternoon, she had us use rubber stampers to make sushi plates. It was ridiculously easy and made me end the day with a smile.

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