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Did you start with pottery by accident or by design? | April 22, 2012


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#1 JBaymore

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 11:49 AM

Did you start with pottery (ceramics) by accident or by design?

How we each "found" clay can likely be an interesting series of stories I bet. I'm guessing there are many convoluted paths leading to each of our kilns.

For myself...... I started out life as a marine zoology major in college. But more on that later........ how about you? Was it is cosmic plan.... or serendipity?


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#2 Mark C.

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 12:47 PM

It started forme with me being the youngest in an artistic educational family of six. Myoldest brother went on to be an Art Professor ad UCSB in Santa Barbara in themid 60’s. My next brother who was 5 years older was good with clay. That mayhave set the seed but I do not know-in High school and friend and I tookprivate lessons and had use of a collage clay facility-that really got me into it.By my senor year in high school I owned my own wheel.



In my junior and regular collage experience I was on quest of ceramic experiences-like a sponge if you will. I wanted to learn it all from low to high fire from mold making to kiln building. I was fortunate enough tobe in junior collage when kilns needed to be built and I leaned that then, as I already knew basic throwing. I was exposed to teachers fresh out of Alfred’s when it was in its heyday when it had teachers like Daniel Rhodes and ValCushing who turned there graduates loose on the learning world who where fullof knowledge and enthusiasm. I learned glaze calculation and the finer points of clay body formulation. I was exposed to the right people at the right time. Worked in the clay lab for years as glaze and kiln tech. I took a year off after my BA in Art and was going on to grad school-it never happened-pottery making just went on. It was never a plan or even a cohesive thought it just was what I like to do and did-that being a potter and making enough money to get by. Years later at age 35 my mother asked what I was going to be in life (I had been a potter for 14 years at this point)That made me realize that this was what I was and would most likely be.



I had some odd jobs scattered in during this time but alljust short income to feed my obsession with clay. Some things that helped meduring this early time were a parent that helped me buy a house at age 19. I was responsible for all payments-mortgage-taxes etc and paying a small loan back of 5 thousand $. Which back then was huge? Also The Gas Company ran a gas main to my property, which helped as kilns went up like trees in a forest. The rest is history like water over the falls for me it’s been more tons of clay turned into pots from people around this world-more than I care to recall. Its really been all my path, done my way-I’m told its very lucky to do something you enjoy for a living but really its at many times seemed so very much not like work.

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#3 Lisa Floryshak-Windman

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 01:02 PM

Did you start with pottery (ceramics) by accident or by design?

How we each "found" clay can likely be an interesting series of stories I bet. I'm guessing there are many convoluted paths leading to each of our kilns.

For myself...... I started out life as a marine zoology major in college. But more on that later........ how about you? Was it is cosmic plan.... or serendipity?




I failed Ceramics in college because I couldn't throw to save my life. I challenged myself to conquer my fear of clay while doing grad work. I have not looked back. -Lisa Floryshak-Windman

#4 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 04:22 PM

I was an Industrial design major and we took Design and Engineering with the Dimensional Design Group of glass blowers, jewelers, woodworkers and ceramicists. I took a ceramics elective and switched majors. I liked the idea of controlling the product from beginning to end. I found teaching ceramics to be an empowering experience for students.
I taught University ceramics for 27 years, have visited potters around the world and written much about my experience. I am finishing up a one year teaching stint at University of Texas at Brownsville. I have a Potters Council tour/workshop coming up in June and a 6 week residency in Vallauris, France in the Fall. Clay is still my choice of medium.
Marcia

#5 bciskepottery

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 06:04 PM

Actually, it's my wife's fault. A few years back, she decided she would like to make some of the things she collected. So, she took a basket-making class and made a basket. Then, she signed up for a pottery class to make a teapot. After 8 weeks of frustration at trying to learn to throw and make even a small bowl, she decided that if she was ever going to get a teapot, I would have to take pottery and make it. I ignored the suggestion. Another 8 week class, and she still was not getting the hang of throwing -- much less making a teapot. So, she again announced I would take the class and make the teapot. I relented and signed up -- domestic tranquility and all that. My only prior experience in pottery had been in junior high school (many decades earlier) and it was a disaster. Long story short -- I became addicted to clay; she "retired" from potting and focused on making rag dolls. We both do craft fairs together, she sells dolls, I sell pottery. At least when she complains I spend too much time working on pottery, I can always remind her that it was her idea. And, yes, she got a teapot -- hand-built from a workshop I attended. When I get ready to stop making pottery, she'll get a wheel-thrown teapot -- after all, that was the goal of taking pottery and when that goal is reached it will be time to stop and move on to something else.

#6 Pres

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 09:26 PM

Did you start with pottery (ceramics) by accident or by design?

How we each "found" clay can likely be an interesting series of stories I bet. I'm guessing there are many convoluted paths leading to each of our kilns.

For myself...... I started out life as a marine zoology major in college. But more on that later........ how about you? Was it is cosmic plan.... or serendipity?



Pretty simple here, majored in Art Education during last 2 years of college by way of Math/Science, Social Science/English then Art Ed. Took one ceramics class and made a B, loved the clay, took a second ceramics class before I graduated. Started teaching 8 months later in a large (2000 grad class) high school. Took more ceramics at Penn State(Dontigny, Stevenson, Gallas). Set up my own studio during early mid life crisis and did shows in the 89's and 90"s. Worked at teaching ceramics for 34 years, taught for 36. Now retired and find more time to explore and make what I want. Probably will leave with a ton of pots I like but won't ever sell!

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#7 Denice

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 09:17 AM

I started out in clay by accident and stayed in it by design. My mother gave be me a mosaic kit when I was 4 or 5 years old I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever done, no more dolls for me. In junior high I worked with clay for the first time everyone else was making god awful ashtrays and mugs, I made a pendant of a Egyptian cat for a necklace. Then I hit high school and found that you could take a class that was mostly working with clay and I was in heaven. I have worked in other art mediums but I always come back to clay. Denice

#8 TJR

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 09:31 AM

i took art in high school. There was a potter's wheel in the corner piled high with art and papers. Asked the teacher if I could try it. I ended up teaching myself to throw. Couldn't take art in grade11 or 12 as I was going to university! Two of my buddies convinced me to apply to art school. I sent in a portfolio and got accepted.One of my friends hit his head on a pipe and dropped out after 3 days. The other dropped after a year. I stuck it out for 4 years. I didn't like the painting class-sitting around talking about drywall sweepings on the floor. Took pottery in my second year-it was like coming home. One of my ceramic prof's graduated from Alfred, the other from RISD.I became the studio tech. Got free clay! Spent all my time in the pot shop.Graduated in 1975.I taught adult and kids pottery classes and taught at a private art school where I had studio space.I drove a cab for extra cash.I worked on construction in the summer and had $2000.00 in the bank. My parents wanted me to buy a house. [I was 23.]I went to Europe instead. I apprenticed at a couple of potteries, one in Scotland, one in England. Came back two years later. I was offered the studio technician job at my old art school. I worked there one year while I built up my portfolio. I applied to Alfred and got accepted. Spent two and a half years in grad school. Upon graduation, I applied to 117 art schools for a teaching job. No response.
I returned to my hometown in Canada. I looked at Architecture, Commerce[if you can believe it!], and Education. It was like coming home. I realized that I had been teaching evening classes the entire time anyway, and I actually LIKE teaching.
I have now been teaching art for 26 years. I was in the same co-operative studio for 26 years as well. I just built my dream studio in the back yard. It has hydronic heat in the floor, is surrounded by windows and will have running water.I continue to make and sell my work, enter shows, have studio sales, and because I have a steady income, I am able to make the kind of work that I am interested in. I make decorative functional pottery, with on glaze brush decoration, in stoneware and porcelain.
TJR.

#9 Chris Campbell

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 01:53 PM

For some reason when I moved to Georgia I decided I had to try pottery after years of working with oil paints and watercolors.
Was instantly addicted to clay.
Twenty or so years ago I took a workshop with Jane Peiser, a colored clay artist, and have been working with colored clay ever since.
Perhaps I am just easily led!

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#10 neilestrick

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 08:54 PM

Started college as a math/statistics major, switched to graphic design after becoming frustrated by the math department. Took ceramics to fulfill an elective credit in the art program and was instantly hooked. Eventually ended up with a BA in Visual Art with emphasis in ceramics and photography. MFA in ceramics after that. After grad school I worked for a commercial glass shop, then at a preschool, then as the tech at a ceramic supply company, and finally ended up with my own shop, where I've been for 7 1/2 years.
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#11 ericthepotter

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 09:50 AM

In 1976-77 I took 2 semesters of pottery at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa under the tutelage of Dean Schwarz who was a student of Marguerite Wildenhain...this was a rather lacklustre attempt at ceramics and I spent the next 34 years as an avid lover of other people's pottery. I collected bowls and pitchers, but never thought that I would again sit at a wheel. Well, 2 years ago my wife asked me if I would like to take a class from a good friend of ours who is a full time potter...after one lesson I was hooked! We have since moved to a new home where I can have a studio with a kiln...I own my own ez-up white tent...I'm booked at several art fairs and my life has been transformed in ways I never imagined!!! I still work my day job and will continue to, but my off time is spent bent over a wheel, at the glaze table or loading and unloading my kiln. In my 20's I wasn't ready for clay...but in my 50's it has captured my life!

#12 Edith Marie

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 12:30 PM

Did you start with pottery (ceramics) by accident or by design?

How we each "found" clay can likely be an interesting series of stories I bet. I'm guessing there are many convoluted paths leading to each of our kilns.

For myself...... I started out life as a marine zoology major in college. But more on that later........ how about you? Was it is cosmic plan.... or serendipity?




Taking a Pottery class was on my list of "to do's" before I can't (this was prior to when the "bucket list" became popular). My husband started giving me pottery pieces made by an employee where he worked, who agreed to teach myself and two friends. I didn't give much thought (along this path called life) about being an artist until taking a beginning throwing class. NOW, I have two rooms in my house dedicated to throwing, hand-building, and glazing, with a kiln outside in my garage. I also belong to our local Clay Arts Guild and share a studio with....you guessed it, my friend who taught the beginning throwing class six years ago and I love playing in the mud creating original masterpieces.

#13 Idaho Potter

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 06:19 PM

I was taking some classes at BSU (just things I liked) and ended up with an hour to fill between drawing and sculpture. As I don't do mornings and the empty hour was from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. I looked for a class that held at least a modicum of interest for me. Boy, couldn't have found anything better than playing in the mud. In fact, as the years wore on, it became evident that without the school's facilities, bronze sculpture was out of the question; stone carving was too hard on my joints; and I didn't want to take up welding as a full-time endeavor.

I continued with woodcarving, but decided that making pots was enjoyable and profitable, and having a kiln meant I could also do sculpture. Haven't looked back since. I like working with clay especially forming it. Maybe some day I'll even glaze my work without saying prayers, crossing fingers and holding my breath. Until then, I'm still having fun.

#14 lcar

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 01:00 AM

I signed up for a painting night class at my local college. I was quite disappointed that the class didn't have the enrollment and had to cancel. After years of accounting and computer classes, it was the first time I had signed up for any class "just for fun". I reluctantly signed up for the pottery class, the only other art class available. The first night, the first time I touched the clay, I knew it was for me. Memories of every other time I had experienced clay came flooding back to me. It was an amazing experience, I knew I wanted to work with it forever. Now when I teach, I love seeing others fall in love with it this same way. It's like some people are potters, always have been, and if they are lucky they will will discover it like some kind of an enlightenment or awakening.
Leanna Carlsonwww.carlsonpottery.com

#15 Up in Smoke Pottery

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 04:18 AM

I got started playing with clay when I was dating my wife. Her family own a ceramic/pottery supply company and manufacture their own line of clays. One day her father asked if I had ever done pottery and if I'd like to try it? Well, I had never touch clay other than play-doh and thought it would be fun, my wife thought it would be funny to watch the clay fly off the wheel. My now father in law took me to their shop and demonstrated how to throw a pot on the wheel, which took him all of 5 mins. Then it was my turn, he talked me through it, and my wife backed up once I started the wheel spinning. I centered the small ball of clay and managed to throw a small tumbler, and from that point I was hooked and spent many a free evenings on their wheels. I still have that 1st tumbler by the way. So I guess it was by accident, and I haven't stopped yet.

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#16 Diana Ferreira

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 12:05 PM

In the late 1980's me and some of my nursing student friends decided to take pottery classes. I loved it. Loved to pinch pots and used my sewing skills to make darts, etc to control the shape. After a year my teacher left and another one took the class. She insisted that i work on the wheel, as it is 'Pottery' classes. I hated the wheel. I made a set of 8 identical mugs and left. (Do not force me to do something!) Soon after that I graduated as a RN and moved to a bigger city. I was young and would rather date and have fun than take pottery classes with fuzzy old people :-)

almost 25 years later I met my ex. He is one of 2 professionally trained moddellers in our city. Spending nights in his studio helping him, I learnt about moldmaking. At that time I was melting glass full time, nursing part time. I got bored with making jewellery and after a lot of discussions he made me some molds. He taught me to cast slip and we added my glass beads to the work. His customers and friends taught me the finer details of slipcasting and fired my work for me. Slowly I started to cut my own masters under his watchful eyes. And one day I made a piece that could not have a glass bead on it. I also started to experiment with a new black clay that was manufactured locally. And that was the start for me.

I am not a potter but I love to design stuff and experiment. Right now clay is working for me. I feel that I am on a sync with it and I can communicate or express myself with this medium. And I am able to make a living out of it. I have to admit that I am getting curious about throwing on the wheel. Strange that i am now drawn to the wheel, when 25 odd years ago I wanted nothing to do with it :-)
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#17 teardrop

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 08:16 AM

I guess you'd say "by accident". My son fell and hit his head last May....and never regained consciousness/passed away ....and soon afterwards I found that the drugs and the therapy just weren't cuttin through it all/just weren't >enough<...and that I needed a creative outlet.

For now, clay is it. I'm also interested in learning to paint. However, I think one messy hobby at a time is probably enough...
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. Dr. Seuss US author & illustrator (1904 - 1991)

#18 Growin' Granny

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 11:41 PM

I guess you'd say "by accident". My son fell and hit his head last May....and never regained consciousness/passed away ....and soon afterwards I found that the drugs and the therapy just weren't cuttin through it all/just weren't >enough<...and that I needed a creative outlet.

For now, clay is it. I'm also interested in learning to paint. However, I think one messy hobby at a time is probably enough...


Teardrop, I'm relatively new to pottery and mostly lurk here to read and learn, but I was very moved by your post and wanted to offer my deepest sympathies on the loss of your son. I hope that the clay brings you some respite from your grief. You truly did come to pottery by "accident". In difficult times, I find refuge in clay and in my garden and think I would go out of my mind if I didn't have those. I almost said it it's cheaper than therapy, but after mentally adding up the investment I've made in my home studio this past year, I'm not so sure about that!

Sheila Maier


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#19 teardrop

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 08:42 AM

Much respect for the kind thoughts/words, Growin' Granny. It's been >the< toughest thing we've ever faced as a couple and it has taken the "shine" off of everything in this world for us. I never knew how dessimating/debilitating PTSD/Grief could be...
We are fortunate, our Therapist likes what we grow and we have a great barter system worked out between us. :) Definitely one of those "I get by with a little help from my friends" scenarios. Early on we were facing $175 an hour...and with as screwed up as we are...it didn't take long to see that we could go broke taking the traditional route of payment/treatment.

Now if I could just get the folks at Bailey/Mile-High Ceramics to barter in the same fashion.... LOL.

again....thanks for noticing/caring/commenting. Most people say nothing...as if it will somehow all go away if they ignore it and pretend all is well.

For us, all isn't well....and will never be. Definitely a hard place to operate from....

love and light to you/yours

teardrop
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. Dr. Seuss US author & illustrator (1904 - 1991)

#20 nancylee

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 06:04 AM

Teardrop,
My greatest sympathy to you and your family on the loss of your son. I know starting in pottery has brought me much solace - I did dog rescue for 5 years, and I saw so much death and cruelty, I was treating my sadness in unhealthy ways, until I started with art and pottery. I know that what I went through is nothing compared to your loss, but I do know that the joy of creating helps with pain. Much prayer and healing light being sent your way,
Peace,
Nancy
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