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cbarnes

Admire The Teachers

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I just wanted to say how much i admire the pottery teachers out there. Ive tried teaching people to use the wheel and its not easy. To someone whose done it a while and worked past my "gremlins" its hard to translate that for someone else. Tried to coach my sister in law last weekend. She had fun with mud but no pottery was made ;)

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Try to have her get in touch with her sense of touch. . ..blind fold her!

 

Really, it can give her a whole different approach to centering or even pulling. Also try to use her hands as tools so that she gets a feel for what should be happening with the clay in the process of throwing.

 

best,

PRes

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When I went to my first classes I had a hard time centering. My teacher told me to look up away from the wheel and look at the wall. It helped a ton. So I second the blindfolding idea. It is amazing what our body will try to do because of what we see where when we go to the feeling senses we have to be more in touch with what we are doing. 

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That's a great idea I think I'll try that myself I am such a visual person it ought to be a interesting experiment.  One time I went to a concert where they were playing weird instruments made out of junk and household items.  It just sounded like noise to me as I carefully watched them play,  I was getting a headache from it so I decided to relax and close my eyes for a minute.  A few seconds after I did the noise sounded like music, I sat up and watched them play and the music turned into noise again. I had my "Ah Ha" moment then spent the rest of the concert  relaxing with my eyes closed.   Denice

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I demonstrated throwing in my HS classes-blindfolded! Trusting fool I was, but then they were so rapt up in the demo, never had a problem. Even had an administrator walk in one time while I was doing it, kids really got a laugh when I finally removed the blindfold and stammered my hello! Point is, getting anyone to rely on their sense of touch instead of their eyes is really most important on the wheel. We learn to judge depth/thickness by needle tools in the beginning, then graduate to doing it by feel. Hah, that old trick of touching your nose with your fingers with eyes closed. . . potters can do it everytime!

 

 

best,

Pres

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I worked with lots of students with handicaps over the years. I found something very basic out about them very early. They needed, no they demanded to succeed. Most of these kids felt the they had to be able to do as much or more as the other students to prove they were worthy. I worked overtime to try and give them the tools and confidence they needed to do what they wanted to do. .. .be accepted.  If this meant modifying tools, or creating new ones, modifying techniques so that they could cope with weakened hands, or missing a hand, or being blind, we found ways to make it work. They have the right as individuals to explore all aspects of life and find those things that allow them self worth. In the long run they will lend more to your class when you help them out, and others see that all can achieve some form of success.  

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When i was whining about my poor golf game for lack of better eye hand coordination, my husband asked "How can you throw pots on the wheel and have poor eye hand coordination?"  I explained to him that I did not really use my eyes much when throwing, it is all body and hands with me.  Maybe I will try golf with my eyes closed ??

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One of my best experiences ever was with a blind person in one of my workshops. Everyone encouraged me to make sure she was included in the workshop, which was not hard for me, because I also worked in various environments with people with special needs. 

 

What I found however, was that my language was much more descriptive than when I would work with people that can see. Also: at one stage I had a 12 inch bottle thrown on the wheel. I called her to feel and experience  the bottle and I asked her to tell me where the irregularities in the wall was. She could pinpoint them on the exact right places. I wish you could see her face when I confirmed her findings!

 

I often encourage potters to "develop eyeballs on their fingertips". That happens mostly through pinching. I am a firm believer that if a person can pinch well, there is no clay technique that cannot be overcome with ease. On my blog on my website I wrote an article about pinching.....

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I started teaching classes a few years ago, and had no idea what I was getting into! As a mostly self-taught potter myself I never realized how much I just did things, without thinking about them...or even knowing I was doing them, until I started teaching. My throwing has improved a lot since i started, from having to trouble shoot beginner problems, to having to be so aware of every movement I make at the wheel so I can explain what I'm doing to my students effectively...it's crazy. I think it's a great learning opportunity for any potter to teach someone how to throw, even just the basics. It has made me appreciate teachers so much more, I am just in awe of people who do it for a living. Hats off to anyone that does, you all are the best!

 

I very much second (third, fourth!) the idea of throwing with your eyes closed/blindfolded. My grandma taught me to throw and that was standard, any time I was having troubles "Close your eyes and feel the clay! Staring at it isn't going to fix anything!"

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