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Evelyne Schoenmann

Qotw: How, When Or Why Did You Start With Working In Clay?

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Good morning, afternoon and evening my friends

 

This week I have another guest. It's RonSa and his question for us is:

 

 "How, when or why did you start with working in clay?"

 

I myself (this is Evelyne again) started alsmost 20 years ago, after I had to stop playing the piano and being a piano teacher because of problems with the right knee and the wrists. First it was kind of a therapy, but soon I got hooked and I learned the métier from scratch. I still know: this is what I want to do till I am... well, approx. 105 years old.

 

How about you all?

 

Have a good week and thank you RonSa for the question!

 

Evelyne

 

 

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GiselleNo5    464

I moved back to my hometown and discovered that a lifelong friend had set up a pottery studio. I started to visit her regularly because I was hooked instantly. She eventually hired me on as a kind of apprentice. I wasn't able to make many of my own pieces till I had more of a studio set-up at my house years later, but until then I soaked up everything, devoured all the articles, books, and videos I could find on pottery. Five years later, here I am! :) 

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Pres    896

Started with clay during a Summer college class while going for my Art Ed degree. I believed I needed a well rounded background in the crafts as well as art to be teaching, as the skills are different, but help balance. Little did I know that I would get bitten so strongly by the clay bug. That nine week class became the first steps for a life long journey of struggle and frustration, pride and accomplishment, and I am loving every minute of it.

 

 

best,

Pres

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yappystudent    40

My first experience with ceramics was a negative one. I made the mistake of taking a wheel pottery class as my art elective at a community college when I was 18, the teacher was a rigid so and so and IMO a little obsessive about the "purity" of making vessels on the wheel. Aside from being one of the biggest artistic buzzkills I've ever encountered I think he was partly why I'm strictly a hand-builder and have no interest in the wheel to this day.

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

I was an Industrial Design major and took an elective in Ceramics. I found it much more satisfying to make actually functional objects than non-functional mock up models.

 

Marcia

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LeeU    328

I started "working" with it as a little kid-my dad showed me that I could make things with the clay we had in our New Jersey yard. I think it was called "blue clay". I was already the self-elected artist of the house, but I can't really articulate "why" I was so inclined. I remember making stuff with "salt dough" with my mom & sister (pre-cursor of Play-Doh) and using a chunk of my allowance to procure coveted colored blocks of modeling clay from the art store in the next town. I was finally able to go to art school at 33 and discovered ceramics, in the Crafts department. That sealed my fate...I fell in love with the stuff. Of necessity, though, I made an abrupt and long detour into the world of a paycheck. I only got back to clay after retiring, making my first pieces in late 2015. I'm really just starting to get my sea legs back.  

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oldlady    1,323

i started in 1948.  third grade.  studying the pilgrims.  we were to make something to represent their lives.  i got some of that awful old oily modeling clay in colors.  made a small farm on a plate with tiny vegetables in rows, tiny green cabbages, a brown cabin.  the teacher said i had just made it so much more complicated than it needed to be.  my mother wanted to scream about the oily residue in the carpets.  i just remember the fences and cabbages.

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Kellykopp    24

1983, Herron School of Art. Totally smitten. Graduated, then life and family obligation grabbed me. Fast forward to 2013, I figured if I didn't get back into it that I never would. Despite having to re-learn almost everything technical (the love for it in my heart didn't have to be re-learned) I am moving forward and have a completeness in my life now. Each time in the studio is an adventure and a learning experience, and you guys here are so kind any time I reach out for advice and help, I thank you all.

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firenflux    45

I was lucky enough to get some clay exposure throughout elementary school in our weekly art classes. It was always the most exciting material we worked with. In high school I learned to through for the first time and then took another class right away in college. It wasn't long before I decided I wanted to specialize in ceramics instead of just learning 1 class in a bunch of different stuff I would do as an art education major.

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RonSa    188

I've mentioned before that I use a lathe to turn wood. Many times when I'm in a gallery I would see ceramics and would say to my wife "I did that on a lathe" or "I bet I could do that with wood." Shapes for both turning and throwing are so similar.

 

Almost a year ago I retired and I kept myself busy in my garden making some changes that I wanted to do for years and had a wonderful crop that I was able to share with friends and family.

 

It was fall and winter was coming. My wife knows that I like to keep busy and decided to enroll us in a adult pottery class at the local high school. I admit I was reluctant at first thinking this wasn't a direction I wanted to go but I decided it would be nice to take a class together so we went.

 

5 months later I've fallen into the deep vortex of throwing clay. There is no escape.

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Denice    243

My first experience with ceramics was when my mother was given a mosaic craft kit, I was the only one at home interested in.  I remember sitting in her lap gluing each tile to the tray, I was 4 years old.  When I was 12 my art teacher gave everyone a ball of clay and told us we could do anything we wanted.  I walked around the classroom and the other kids were smashing them into lumpy ashtrays.  I went back up to the teacher and asked her can we really make anything we want and she said yes.  So I made a pendant of a small Egyptian cat for a necklace, I realized then that you could make anything out of clay.  It hung in the school showcase for the rest of the year,  my next encounter was high school. This was the late 60's it was pretty wild, the White Album was being constantly played, my teacher had long hair and was always smoking something in his pipe.  Laid back atmosphere was great for creativity and that is where I fell in love with clay.  Denice

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ayjay    119

I'm sure I've said before; my wife started pottery classes at our local Adult education Centre, after three years she was still bringing home a multitude of strange misshapen lumps (these were thrown, not hand built)  and I found myself wondering -  "how hard can it be?" 

 

So I started going as well, it's not hard at all, my wife is just crap at it.

 

As an aside, pottery is how I came by the name Ayjay.

 

Everyone in my father's family is known by their second given name - I don't know why, (but I could speculate).   So, I've been known as John for all my life, although first name is Alexander. 

 

I arrived at the pottery class the very first time and my wife said, "This is John".   The tutor said, "Well who is this Alexander on my list" 

 

After a few seconds of trying to explain she said, " I can't handle all that, you'll have to be AyJay,  and so far as pottery classes are concerned I've been Ayjay ever since, I doubt that anyone there actually knows my proper name.

 

Ten or so years on I'm still potting, (my wife can no longer even attempt it  because of her MS).

 

 

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What?    83

Second grade someone came into the school and taught us coil building. I was out the day she came back and had the class glaze. Mother's day was close and the projects came back. Everyone's was colorful and shiny except mine. I was so disappointed to give my mother what is now known to me as a bisqueware pot. I never mentioned the other kids pots to my mother. She liked the pot. I am sure this pot is on a self or mantle still to this day.

 

Watching Captain Kangaroo or Mr. Rodgers one day as a kid they visited a pottery. I was mesmerized by the potter's wheel and so wished I could try that someday. Well at twenty eight years old at a crossroads in my life I found out one of the reasons I am here. To make pottery. I did mention I am crazy right? Oh wait you all are crazy too. I would love to say I cashed everything and became a successful full time potter but that's not the case. Fear and insecurity still grip me. If I won the lottery I would have several studios around the world rubbing shoulders and slinging clay on anyone who cared to join me. All day I dream about clay. I can't think of anything better to do with my free time.

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glazenerd    816

Stopped in Williamsburg, Va. while on vacation in 2007: stopped at an antique store. They had an 18th century Dresden vase and next to it was a crystalline vase: the salesman had no idea what it was, or how it got there. I spent the next year (plus) doing searches trying to find out what this mesmerizing piece was. Sort of gave up looking until one day my wife said: "it looked crystals to me" I typed in "crystal pottery" and the first link was a potter in Texas who worked with crystalline glaze. Spent the rest of the day, and the next few months researching and reading everything I could get my hands on. I had not worked with clay beforehand except painting a Christmas ornament with my wife, primarily out of sheer boredom..

 

My wife and I had been saving up for a motor home for nearly 30+plus years at that time: a retirement dream. I decided I would rather spend part of it on a studio. I bought a slab roller, extruder, 2 kilns, and a ton of porcelain. In addition, an extremely large inventory of dry glaze ingredients, oxides of every kind, and built multiple drying racks. I remember unloading all of this stuff and thinking: now what? It is now seven years later.The one thing I can say about starting out with the most technical glaze, once you master it everything else seems like child's play. All in all, it was still cheaper than going to college: and it turned out to be an adventure of itself.

 

Nerd

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Joseph F    865

I was bored, took a class, said "I like this". Stopped going to the class and bought a wheel. Spent the next 5-6 months throwing things then balling them up and re throwing it. Eventually bought a kiln and went crazy. Several years later, I still don't have a favorite glaze, and I have burned myself out several times going down the rabbit hole of glazes. I am actually just now coming off burnout and making some plates! 

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Back in the fall of 1995 I went back for an extra year of high school, because I wanted to take a bunch more science classes so that I could increase my chances of getting into a good physiotherapy program in University. I'd finished all my other requirements for my diploma, so I decided I needed to add an art elective to break up the monotony of 3 straight quarters of physics, bio and chem. I wound up in an art room with a very progressive program that introduced me to throwing, and a teacher who was willing to try just about anything, and who regularly brought in artists from the community to do demos in all kinds of different techniques, including raku firing. We built fibrefrax kilns with no masks, and the students over 17 did all the lifting the pots from the kiln into the reduction garbage can, and worked with a lot of copper sand- type glazes. I was completely hooked. The thing that completely sealed it was the field trip to the annual open house at ACAD. Standing in the Ceramics Department, I had a very strong sense of being "home." I went home and announced to my parents I was going to art school instead. They gave me heck for not saying hello first. I dropped the remaining physics classes (kept the bio and chem), and added more art.

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GiselleNo5    464

I've mentioned before that I use a lathe to turn wood. Many times when I'm in a gallery I would see ceramics and would say to my wife "I did that on a lathe" or "I bet I could do that with wood." Shapes for both turning and throwing are so similar.

 

Almost a year ago I retired and I kept myself busy in my garden making some changes that I wanted to do for years and had a wonderful crop that I was able to share with friends and family.

 

It was fall and winter was coming. My wife knows that I like to keep busy and decided to enroll us in a adult pottery class at the local high school. I admit I was reluctant at first thinking this wasn't a direction I wanted to go but I decided it would be nice to take a class together so we went.

 

5 months later I've fallen into the deep vortex of throwing clay. There is no escape.

 

 

I often think this when I see a video of someone wood turning! It's so similar in many ways. It's more limited because of the rigidity of the wood, but of course working with a material that does not dry out overnight and does not shrink or have to be fired must be nice! 

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RonSa    188

 

I've mentioned before that I use a lathe to turn wood. Many times when I'm in a gallery I would see ceramics and would say to my wife "I did that on a lathe" or "I bet I could do that with wood." Shapes for both turning and throwing are so similar.

 

Almost a year ago I retired and I kept myself busy in my garden making some changes that I wanted to do for years and had a wonderful crop that I was able to share with friends and family.

 

It was fall and winter was coming. My wife knows that I like to keep busy and decided to enroll us in a adult pottery class at the local high school. I admit I was reluctant at first thinking this wasn't a direction I wanted to go but I decided it would be nice to take a class together so we went.

 

5 months later I've fallen into the deep vortex of throwing clay. There is no escape.

 

 

I often think this when I see a video of someone wood turning! It's so similar in many ways. It's more limited because of the rigidity of the wood, but of course working with a material that does not dry out overnight and does not shrink or have to be fired must be nice! 

 

 

Wood's rigidity just gives it a different range of possibilities. I can turn a jar (woodturners call them boxes) with a suction cup fitting lid that makes them air tight yet easy to open.

 

Green wood does shrink when drying and will crack if not properly controlled.  Even after its dry and a finish applied it will expand and contract through the seasons depending on the ambient temperature and humidity.

 

Take a look at frame and panel doors, those panels are not glued in and float to prevent cracking.

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Benzine    609

I was first intrigued by clay, when I was a child, and watched my Dad work on a sculpture.  I liked the smooth look it had, and the way it could be molded.  Fast forward to High School, where we got to do a quick coil-building lesson.  I enjoyed the process, though we didn't get to keep our finished project as my High School, didn't even had a kiln.  (It had a kick wheel that sat outside the Art Room, and was so weathered, that one kick wouldn't even get you a full rotation...)  I got to touch clay again Freshmen year in College, with a Three-Dimensional Concepts class.  Once again, we didn't get to fire and keep the projects we made... Though I did actually smuggle mine out with  me, and fired it years later...  I took a Sculpture class, thinking I'd get to do more clay work.  I enjoyed the class overall, but sadly, no clay.  I finally took a Ceramics class my Senior year of College.  I had a great instructor, who was an adjunct, and also taught at a local public school.  The class went from being something to pad my teaching repertoire, to an area of Art that I continue to thoroughly enjoy and focus on.

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