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AnitaMarie

What To Do With All My Early Pieces?

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Hi - I am fairly new to clay and love it.  I have been doing it for about a year now and am improving day by day. But I'm dying to know, experienced potters, what do I do with all of these early pots?!  My cabinets are full, I'm running out of friends to give them to, and frankly, they are wonky and lead heavy and I don't even want to keep them!  But throwing them away just seems wasteful.  Looking into the future, I know I will make hundreds more of these as I work to get better and better.  Suggestions?? What did you do with all of your early, crappy works? Thanks! - Anita

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I recently visited a friend on the West Coast, one that I have known for a long time.  She served syrup in a crappy little pitcher I gave her 35 yrs ago when I first learned wheel throwing.  It was embarrassingly horrible, but she loves it and has been using it for 35 yrs.

(Gosh, to think if I had just kept throwing I might be really proficient today)

I know there are only so many friends and relatives to give stuff to....

 

Oh, and I found a new purpose for seconds.  I smash them into pieces and surround the root balls with a layer of the shards when I'm planting a new plant .  It keeps the voles from eating the roots.   That only works if you have a vole problem....which I do.

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I love my hammer. Get in there and smash away! It's a good idea to put them in a cardboard box and then break your pieces. Do this when no one else is around because the sound of breaking pottery is a little unnerving. Don't let anyone grab stuff out of the garbage. Smash em small enough so that they are completely unusable.

I think I shall go out to the studio with my hammer right! now!

p.s. It's always a good idea to cull your work before it goes through the glaze fire. That crack on the bottom / rim,or wherever is not going to get smaller.Don't waste energy on it.

TJR.

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Yeah, I agree.  Hammer.  But keep a couple early pieces, so you can see how far you've come. 

 

Somewhere I have a little cup I made when I first started out.  It was earthenware, with a drawing scratched into it, glazed with a yellow lead glaze and fired in a wood kiln I built out of sandstone and mud.

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#One perfect solution is to stop firing everything ... Do some serious editing before you bisque fire pots because nothing that happens after is going to make an iffy pot better.

#Two is hammer & goggles ... Let your stressed out friends have a go at it too. Share the fun. Share the shards with gardening friends .. Shards spread around a flower bed will discourage small animals from getting close and munching plants.

#Three ... Build a wall with them

#Four ... Toss them out.

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This is my vote as Chris says

#One perfect solution is to stop firing everything

 

​this is what all beginners need to do-not fire and keep that stuff-throw in back in the slop bucket

I only have a few beginner works two or three at best.

The hammer is your best friend now.

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One of the hardest things for a beginner to do is to throw everything out before the lesson is learned. Think about it, did you keep your practice sheets for penmanship, your brush stroke practice sheets when learning to use brushes, do you publish the stories you wrote in HS? When I first took ceramics in college, I was in an eight week session, I threw everyday, for about 6 hrs. Did not keep a thing until the  last 3-4 days of the 6th week, then kept everything. Totaled out to about 9 pots. They were not perfect, but they were the best I could do with that short amount of time under my belt. I took ceramics during the following year in regular sessions and ended up with about 10-12 well thrown, but not very creative pots. Over the years, I have thrown away many more pieces than I have kept, both because I was demonstrating or just not satisfied. Now days I have a tendency to throw it out if doesn't please me the minute it comes off the wet wheel. Used to be I would throw it, decorate it, trim it, handle it if needed then chuck it. I don't waste the time anymore as those lessons have been learned.

 

 

best,

Pres

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Self editing is a very critical component in learning the art.  Self editing before the clay has been fired... and also after it has been fired. 

 

Considered and productive self editing... in which you articulate to yourself WHY you are about to reclaim this piece or hit that piece with a hammer.

 

best,

 

....................john

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I am probably the only one... but I wish I had more of my early work.

 

There is a good reason to fire as many pieces as possible, especially if the costs are included in the class. Glazing is about half the skill in making good pottery and usually about 1/20 of a class is spent on the topic. Getting practice with dipping and pouring etc requires finishing entirely too many pieces.

 

I would like to suggest an honesty table by the sidewalk.

OldUberGoober, Heidi1, curt and 2 others like this

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I keep my first from a new form. Here is my first ceramic work a mug dated 9/9/2002; it sits front and center on my desk. It is perfect in every way. It's function is to drink out of. Works perfect. Drum roll.......

post-66695-0-50983200-1454799731_thumb.jpg

post-66695-0-50983200-1454799731_thumb.jpg

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Thanks so much for all of your replies.  Good points regarding editing.  I'll try to do that more.  And I love the idea of using it in the garden, hadn't thought of that.   But I kind of also agree with MatthewV, that fine tuning my glazing is going to mean a lot more pots.  Anyone have simple directions for making a mosaic?  We've got a lot of stucco that could be decorated....

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Put 'em on a wall and use 'em for target practice?

Seriously, learn to edit your work before it's bisqued, while the clay can be recycled. Cut open your pieces to see where you need to focus. Too much clay on the bottom? Walls uneven? Learn from your work.

When I teach beginners, I stress the process, not the product. But I get that beginners want to have something to show for all their hard work. And they need pieces on which to practice glazing In a limited class schedule.

Ideally, though, I'd not let them keep anything for the first couple of weeks, or maybe choose one piece to keep from each class,

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As a reminder to the other end of this story, maybe some of you would benefit from an older post about mugs.

 

http://community.ceramicartsdaily.org/topic/1148-how-much-do-you-sell-your-mugs-for/

 

I think this strand hit a lot of the entire aesthetic gambit. In some ways it even answers the question of what to do with bad or poorly done work. Read what is not there as well as what is there.

 

 

best,

Pres

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I toss my rejects in a large cardboard box, they break they crack they stay there until I have enough to make some stepping stones for my yard. I have caught my husband fishing through the box and tell him uh uh uh finger wag what do you need? Then give him something that is good but I don't think is good enough to sell. He likes to use my pieces for pencils and small tools in his train room. I figure I will eventually have enough stepping stones to surround the entire house and then I will work on a path along the creek.

 

I had an issue when I started of every piece being precious I had to get brutal with myself and it helps when I looked at it this way... Before bisque firing there are no failures just new possibilities. Wedge it down and make something that IS worthy of the kiln. I'm very frugal and it drives me nuts to waste anything so I have learned to edit before firing so I can reuse the clay for something else. If after bisque firing there is an issue I use the pieces in the studio for practice painting and such. After glaze firing it's that cardboard box and stepping stones.

 

You can find molds and such to make mosaic walking stones at craft stores and you can find concrete stepping stone molds at Home Depot. Or just google diy stepping stones and make one yourself.

 

T

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There are lots of mosaic ideas on the internet. Pinterest has great ideas also. Love the look for garden projects. I used to go to Goodwill to get dishes for the few projects I made and now I can collect my own:)

It's important to cover the dishes you put the hammer on, with a towel or something like that, so nothing will get into your eyes.

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Current things that mess up in the glaze firing meet what I call "the hammer of under-performance". ;> Do warn people in shared studios "...something is breaking but nothing is wrong...", or you'll have a couple of people climb up the walls unexpectedly. However, a long time ago, I realized that by the end of each year, completely functional stuff without flaws was tucked here and there in the house and garage. The solution to clearing this out was to put ridiculously low prices on it, and sell it through a December high school ceramics department sale as a consigner. I never put bad stuff in that sale. That way, the HS gets money for their program, I do almost nothing, and my space is cleaned out for the non-sellers in the next year.

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