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I am now retired and started my second career, counseling, but I was in an unsafe buidling without enough staff and I quit. I am now with some time on my hands. I would love some advice as how to push further and get better. I have been looking into those places where I can do a 8 to 12 week workshop. I think I need the consistency. I’ve been at this 8 years, I have my own wheel and kiln, and honestly - I still can’t center consistently. I can’t make big bowls or plates. I make urns, lots of them,so I’ve gotten good at cylinders. I love carving and glazing a lot more than throwing!

Is a long term workshop worthwhile to learn? Otherwise, I sit at home on my wheel and make the same mistakes over and over. Making 50 mugs in a day sounds great, but when you make the same mistakes iver and over, it sounds like a waste of my life. I can take classes, but once a week doesnt sink into my bad-habits brain.

I aould appreciate your thoughts.  

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Nancy have you looked into taking a studio work class at your nearby college? Sometimes they offer classes at a reduced rate to seniors if your audit ing it and not taking it for a grade.  Also I've found some great podcasts online that are very helpful especially if you need help in one spicific area of throwing. Good luck and keep practicing that's the key.

 

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6 minutes ago, Oldmuddy said:

Nancy have you looked into taking a studio work class at your nearby college? Sometimes they offer classes at a reduced rate to seniors if your audit ing it and not taking it for a grade.  Also I've found some great podcasts online that are very helpful especially if you need help in one spicific area of throwing. Good luck and keep practicing that's the key.

 

Thanks! I haven’t looked into colleges. The community college doesnt offer ceramics and Skidmore College used to have classes for adults, but don’t anymore. I can look at some options further afield, though.

nancy 

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I'm doing studio work this semester at the college i received my degree from and it only costs me 120 dollars a semester with unlimited work space in the studio. Since i haven't been able to work on the wheel in 18 years because of working now that I'm retired i need it's almost like starting all over again. The professor is wonderful and just what i needed to refresh my skills that my old brain had put in mothballs for too long. The videos are also very helful check them out.

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mea rhee has a wonderful website and blog where she explains lots of things you might want to know.  she also has videos of her special skills.  there is another potter here with videos, antoinette badenhorst (?).    you might also want to visit some potters in your area and see if they need some studio help in exchange for lessons.   if you were closer, i would do that.

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7 minutes ago, oldlady said:

mea rhee has a wonderful website and blog where she explains lots of things you might want to know.  she also has videos of her special skills.  there is another potter here with videos, antoinette badenhorst (?).    you might also want to visit some potters in your area and see if they need some studio help in exchange for lessons.   if you were closer, i would do that.

I wish I were closer! Thanks so much,

nancy

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28 minutes ago, Oldmuddy said:

I'm doing studio work this semester at the college i received my degree from and it only costs me 120 dollars a semester with unlimited work space in the studio. Since i haven't been able to work on the wheel in 18 years because of working now that I'm retired i need it's almost like starting all over again. The professor is wonderful and just what i needed to refresh my skills that my old brain had put in mothballs for too long. The videos are also very helful check them out.

I will check them out. Your situation sounds great! Thanks!

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I used to teach HS in Central PA. About 15 years before retiring I started up a "Cabin Fever buster" for adults on Saturdays that lasted from Feb. to March, 6 weeks. All of the proceeds went into a permanent account that I could draw off of for equipment and supplies. This allowed me to offer a community service, and to expand my budget without expanding the district budget. Even though they knew of my needs, their restraints did not allow the upkeep and expansion that we needed for expansion. You may find a local art teacher with enough facilities to offer something like this if you are resourceful enough to recruit someone.

 

best,

Pres

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Making 50 mugs, even while making mistakes, is not a waste, especially if you are realizing that you are making the mistake. 

At the very least, you are learning what not to do, and the best, you are figuring out how to avoid said mistake, and improve your technique/ process. 

I've been doing this a while now, not nearly as long as many hear, but a decent amount of time.  I am still constantly improving, and figuring out things, that I should have done long ago.  One of the things, that has helped me the most, is having access to an seemingly endless supply of ready made mistakes/ accidents, the students encounter.  When I make a mistake, it happens, I address it, and move on.  With students, it happens once, then again, again, again...  So I have a lot of opportunity to improve.  There's a lot on the wheel I can salvage, and a whole lot of broken greenware I can repair.

Just stay with it, things will get easier.

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7 minutes ago, Pres said:

I used to teach HS in Central PA. About 15 years before retiring I started up a "Cabin Fever buster" for adults on Saturdays that lasted from Feb. to March, 6 weeks. All of the proceeds went into a permanent account that I could draw off of for equipment and supplies. This allowed me to offer a community service, and to expand my budget without expanding the district budget. Even though they knew of my needs, their restraints did not allow the upkeep and expansion that we needed for expansion. You may find a local art teacher with enough facilities to offer something like this if you are resourceful enough to recruit someone.

 

best,

Pres

I would still like to get something like this going in my District Pres.  Maybe when the ankle bitters at home, are no longer biting my ankles...

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The local college near me Wichita State University has free tuition for seniors but you still need to pay material fees.   I attended a nearby community college seminar on tile making.   I noticed how much personal attention the beginners got.   They had  over booked the seminar and I was drafted to be a teacher.   I had been making tile for 10 years and knew more about it than the speaker who was from a commercial  tile factory.     A small community college might give you the help you need.   Denice

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I would look for a situation that includes open studio time. Even though you have your own wheel, it is useful to work in the company of others who can watch you for a moment and tell you the odd things you are doing that you don't realize you are doing.

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1 hour ago, Benzine said:

Making 50 mugs, even while making mistakes, is not a waste, especially if you are realizing that you are making the mistake. 

At the very least, you are learning what not to do, and the best, you are figuring out how to avoid said mistake, and improve your technique/ process. 

I've been doing this a while now, not nearly as long as many hear, but a decent amount of time.  I am still constantly improving, and figuring out things, that I should have done long ago.  One of the things, that has helped me the most, is having access to an seemingly endless supply of ready made mistakes/ accidents, the students encounter.  When I make a mistake, it happens, I address it, and move on.  With students, it happens once, then again, again, again...  So I have a lot of opportunity to improve.  There's a lot on the wheel I can salvage, and a whole lot of broken greenware I can repair.

Just stay with it, things will get easier.

Thank you! I am going to make a schedule of throwing and throw things that are hard for me. Hopefully, if I can center them, I will learn.

nancy

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1 hour ago, Pres said:

I used to teach HS in Central PA. About 15 years before retiring I started up a "Cabin Fever buster" for adults on Saturdays that lasted from Feb. to March, 6 weeks. All of the proceeds went into a permanent account that I could draw off of for equipment and supplies. This allowed me to offer a community service, and to expand my budget without expanding the district budget. Even though they knew of my needs, their restraints did not allow the upkeep and expansion that we needed for expansion. You may find a local art teacher with enough facilities to offer something like this if you are resourceful enough to recruit someone.

 

best,

Pres

I wish Ii ed near someone generous with their time like you are! I know most potters here and don’t know if anyone who would do this with me. :( Nancy 

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35 minutes ago, nancylee said:

Thank you! I am going to make a schedule of throwing and throw things that are hard for me. Hopefully, if I can center them, I will learn.

nancy

How do you center now?  Do you cone up?  How soft is your clay?

Those are two things, that took me years to figure out.  I knew of coning, but never really did it, when I started, and was still able to get the clay centered.  But over the years, I realized, that it does really help. 

The same is true with soft clay.  I would generally just use whatever consistency I had the easiest access to.  Even if it meant the bag I opened was a bit too firm.  I could still get it to work, but I wasted so much time and energy, trying to make a stiff clay work, when I could have had a soft clay centered in a fraction of the time...  Also with less stress on my wrists...

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nancy, try a supplier.   they know the people who come in and order stuff.   they know who asks stupid questions and who just orders more so they can make more.   there are potters everywhere. 

i do not know where you are in Upstate NY but there are wonderful potters close by.  look at Ayumi Horie's website.  she has links to other potters.   you can meet many of them at this time of year because it is open house season.   look for Open Studio announcements in local papers.  the ones that potters can afford to advertise in.    one tour can net several people you might want to work with.   it might take a bit of courage to approach one of them AFTER the event and after the busy christmas season but try it.  what do you have to lose.

of course, if you find someone who looks swamped with work and nobody to help, just offer.   

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Taking an 8 or 12 weeks class would probably be very helpful. Nothing beats having someone watch you work and identify your bad habits. You can watch instructional videos, and you may think you're doing it right, but very small differences in hand positions, etc, can make a big difference in your success.

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I've been throwing for seven months, hence don't have a wealth of experience to draw from, however, the beginning (oops, aargh, wha?, hehde, oops, lol, oh well, what just happened?, kidding me? what? omg, oops,  ...all that and more) is still very fresh! ...fwiw:

  Agreed that softer clay (and slammed, if necessary, see Bill Van Gilder's "How To Fix Stiff Clay") responds better. There may be drawbacks, but going bigger and thinner probably comes later anyway.

  Thorough wedging seems to really help, and some potters believe matching the spiral with the wheelhead direction helps. I turn clockwise, so a ram's head wedged ball or cone of clay is turned up on its right side, such that working the clay on the wheel just continues the direction the clay was wedged in. If you turn counter clockwise, turn your wedged clay up on the left side and place on your wheel.

  Also agreed that coning up helps, and when I'm not patient enough to cone up and down two or three (three is magic!) times, have to laugh at myself, on account o' trouble's coming.

  Sometimes the clay just won't center! Time to get up and wedge up a new lump (or do somewhat else); throwing uncentered clay, tried that, doesn't work for me.

  Watching others center helped me some - everyone a bit different, try watching Tim See (uses opposite hand), Bill Van Gilder, Hsin-Chuen Lin, Michael Casson (rules!), the Dirty Potter, Simon Leach,  Emily Reason, Ingleton Pottery (there's the usual guy - what's his name? - and the one handed guy), Isaac Button, many many others...

  Use water - just enough so your hands don't drag.

  See what happens when you apply too much pressure coning up (rip just below your hands), and coning down (attachment to the wheel rips loose).

  Also agreed that group setting - where there's some one to help - is great.

Edited by Hulk
comma

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4 hours ago, neilestrick said:

Taking an 8 or 12 weeks class would probably be very helpful. Nothing beats having someone watch you work and identify your bad habits. You can watch instructional videos, and you may think you're doing it right, but very small differences in hand positions, etc, can make a big difference in your success.

I recommend that abject beginners should start with a class. Having nine classmates who are all dealing with similar questions and isues can multiply your learning by a lot. And it also gives you perspective on how quickly you should expect yourself to progress.

But I also thnk in person classes come in a wide range of quality. Many of them are just supervised open studios, where the students are on their own unless they ask for instruction. Which means the student needs to initiate meaningful questions, which is not really an effective way to teach. Lots of excellent teachers out there too, just saying that an in-person class doesn’t automatically mean quality..

If a good teacher is providing specific and meaningful instruction, and a framework for learning,  this is more important than whether it is delivered in person or not.

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Yes Hulk having softer clay really makes a diffrence! When i was trowing for the first time i had a difficult time and couldn't get my clay centered until i started using porcelain. I think it was the softness and smoothness which made the difference.

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8 hours ago, Benzine said:

How do you center now?  Do you cone up?  How soft is your clay?

Those are two things, that took me years to figure out.  I knew of coning, but never really did it, when I started, and was still able to get the clay centered.  But over the years, I realized, that it does really help. 

The same is true with soft clay.  I would generally just use whatever consistency I had the easiest access to.  Even if it meant the bag I opened was a bit too firm.  I could still get it to work, but I wasted so much time and energy, trying to make a stiff clay work, when I could have had a soft clay centered in a fraction of the time...  Also with less stress on my wrists...

I try to use soft clay, cause hard clay is impossible for me. A woman on Facebook showed me in a video and it helps, but only to a point. I cone way up, then push down, pushing sideways. I get in trouble when the clay joins the clay on bottom. I can't get the bottom to center many times. Another way was to cone up, then use my right hand to push down while holding with my left. Neither works most of the time. 

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3 hours ago, Hulk said:

I've been throwing for seven months, hence don't have a wealth of experience to draw from, however, the beginning (oops, aargh, wha?, hehde, oops, lol, oh well, what just happened?, kidding me? what? omg, oops,  ...all that and more) is still very fresh! ...fwiw:

  Agreed that softer clay (and slammed, if necessary, see Bill Van Gilder's "How To Fix Stiff Clay") responds better. There may be drawbacks, but going bigger and thinner probably comes later anyway.

  Thorough wedging seems to really help, and some potters believe matching the spiral with the wheelhead direction helps. I turn clockwise, so a ram's head wedged ball or cone of clay is turned up on its right side, such that working the clay on the wheel just continues the direction the clay was wedged in. If you turn counter clockwise, turn your wedged clay up on the left side and place on your wheel.

  Also agreed that coning up helps, and when I'm not patient enough to cone up and down two or three (three is magic!) times, have to laugh at myself, on account o' trouble's coming.

  Sometimes the clay just won't center! Time to get up and wedge up a new lump (or do somewhat else); throwing uncentered clay, tried that, doesn't work for me.

  Watching others center helped me some - everyone a bit different, try watching Tim See (uses opposite hand), Bill Van Gilder, Hsin-Chuen Lin, Michael Casson (rules!), the Dirty Potter, Simon Leach,  Emily Reason, Ingleton Pottery (there's the usual guy - what's his name? - and the one handed guy), Isaac Button, many many others...

  Use water - just enough so your hands don't drag.

  See what happens when you apply too much pressure coning up (rip just below your hands), and coning down (attachment to the wheel rips loose).

  Also agreed that group setting - where there's some one to help - is great.

Thank you for the suggestions. I appreciate them! 

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12 hours ago, nancylee said:

I try to use soft clay, cause hard clay is impossible for me. A woman on Facebook showed me in a video and it helps, but only to a point. I cone way up, then push down, pushing sideways. I get in trouble when the clay joins the clay on bottom. I can't get the bottom to center many times. Another way was to cone up, then use my right hand to push down while holding with my left. Neither works most of the time. 

When you push down and sideways, aim the tip of the cone toward the center of the base, not just sideways. That should help keep your base from trying to separate from the wheel, which is where you're losing the "centeredness". (Been there) 

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nancy, there is a general acceptance of the mound of clay being wide at the base before you start to center.  a gentle slope with a very slight rise.   you can see drawings of this shape on classroom walls all over.  it is not necessary and can lead to problems with gathering all that s;loppy, wet stuff into the center.   

try using softer clay, a substantial paddle to whack it down with, and gather it from the base so it starts out as a cylinder shape from the beginning.  let your hands surround that bottom for several revolutions of the wheel, force that part into the center and then begin to let it rise into the cone.

if all goes well, great, if not, use a tapered wooden tool and push it straight down to the wheelhead to remove that sloppy slope so you can get a good grip on the cylindrical center and try again.

 

thank you rae, that is a great description,  and yes, we  have all been there.

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On 9/6/2018 at 10:23 AM, oldlady said:

nancy, there is a general acceptance of the mound of clay being wide at the base before you start to center.  a gentle slope with a very slight rise.   you can see drawings of this shape on classroom walls all over.  it is not necessary and can lead to problems with gathering all that s;loppy, wet stuff into the center.   

try using softer clay, a substantial paddle to whack it down with, and gather it from the base so it starts out as a cylinder shape from the beginning.  let your hands surround that bottom for several revolutions of the wheel, force that part into the center and then begin to let it rise into the cone.

if all goes well, great, if not, use a tapered wooden tool and push it straight down to the wheelhead to remove that sloppy slope so you can get a good grip on the cylindrical center and try again.

 

thank you rae, that is a great description,  and yes, we  have all been there.

Thank you! I will give this a run!

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