Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Reflections, day one

Since aTi is running from 9-5, I figured I would go home after the coursework, relax for a bit, and then go to the gym. After day one, I was exhausted once I got home. My whole body felt like it had experienced an arduous workout. My hands felt fatigued.

I'll admit it. When I chose "All Things Clay," I wanted to venture into unknown territory, but I also wanted a course that would be very manageable. It's foolish, but I assumed clay work just involved making mounds of clay, shaping the mounds a lil', and then painting them. I was quite wrong in my assumption.

During the morning, we learned how to make pinch pots. Making pinch pots is one of the most basic steps in pottery. It requires a lot of control with your hands; it also requires a lot of patience. We were told to make two pinch pots and then merge them together in order to form the "base" for creating a small animal figure. My two pinch pots greatly varied in size. After merging them together, I used my pottery tools to shape the two pieces. Most of us were following Deborah's demo and creating fish figures. 

The two aTi participants on both sides of me were creating beautiful, graceful figures. See if you can find my figure:

Besides the fact that I have my name tag on, you can tell which figure is mine. It lacks grace and resembles a bottle rocket more than a fish. Other people created cute "googly eyes" for their animals. I tried to follow suit, but my fish looks like it has some kind of visual impairment. Creating the fish was frustrating.

After lunch, we were shown how to add coils to a base in order to begin creating sculptures. Others were sculpting heads and intricate animal skulls. I wanted to keep things simple, so I chose to sculpt a watermelon half. How hard could a semi circle be? 

It turns out that building coils upon coils to make a sculpture is challenging. It did not matter that I chose an "easier" shape than the others. I spent three hours of our afternoon session adding layers and layers to my watermelon piece. 

Using coils to make sculptures
In this photo, I am using a paddle to smooth out flaws (bumps, cracks, uneven areas) on my "watermelon" piece. This piece started out with many layers of coils.
After day one, I have realized how complex pottery can be. I used to go to craft fairs, see pottery pieces on display, and think, "Eh. That's easy. You just shape the clay into a mug or bowl and paint it." I now have a completely different point of view in regard to pottery. 

Deborah told our class a meaningful anecdote. She told us about an old Japanese potter who was using the potter's wheel and creating a piece. An onlooker asked how much the potter would charge for the piece and the potter replied with an amount that was perceived as expensive. The onlooker commented that lots of money for two minutes on a potter's wheel seemed like a "good gig." The Japanese artist responded, "It took me two minutes and 80 years to make this piece." 

Deborah, our art master, makes pottery look easy. As a student, I quickly realized that things that look easy seldom are easy. 

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