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Why are you addicted to clay? | Q.O.W. 12/11/12

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#1 JBaymore



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Posted 11 December 2012 - 01:23 PM

Pertty simple one this week...............

Why are you addicted to clay?

Check out joining the Potters Council ( www.potterscouncil.org ) for more networking possibilities, peer mentoring opportunities, discounts on books, magazines, and DVDs, health insurance, credit card merchant programs, and many other member benefits.

John Baymore
Adjunct Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

Former Guest Professor, Wuxi Institute of Arts and Science, Yixing, China

Former President and Past President; Potters Council



#2 ericthepotter



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Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:41 AM

I threw pots in college...as did many folks...but I was a rather lacklustre student. I enjoyed it...but never caught the fever. Over the years I developed a fascination for ceramic bowls...I collected them and displayed them and used them...but never had the opportunity to throw. Fast forward 34 years...my wife asked me if I would like to take lessons from a friend who is a professional potter...I thought why not? After the first lesson I was hooked...and my life has been forever changed! I am addicted to clay for the peace it brings me. I have often said that when I am centering clay on the wheel I feel I am centering my life. There is great joy in taking a lump of clay and guiding it and allowing it to guide me to the pot that is to be found within. When a bowl or vase or platter is forming in front of me I find such great satisfaction in the process and the discovery!

#3 OffCenter


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Posted 12 December 2012 - 10:52 AM

It was 1969 and I had just dropped several hits of acid and was on my way to a drawing class when I passed the ceramics studio and saw a beautiful woman throwing a pot, so I went in and sat down in the tractor seat of the Randall wheel next to her to watch her but ended up watching the clay she was throwing. An hour or two later I was still watching her throw until someone asked me to move off the wheel and told me the woman was long gone. I decided to drop the drawing class and take ceramics 101 instead.

E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#4 TJR


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Posted 12 December 2012 - 01:29 PM

It was 1969 and I had just dropped several hits of acid and was on my way to a drawing class when I passed the ceramics studio and saw a beautiful woman throwing a pot, so I went in and sat down in the tractor seat of the Randall wheel next to her to watch her but ended up watching the clay she was throwing. An hour or two later I was still watching her throw until someone asked me to move off the wheel and told me the woman was long gone. I decided to drop the drawing class and take ceramics 101 instead.


Made me laugh! How many hits of acid did you say? Was it Paisley Sunshine or California Dreaming?[names of potential acid tabs]

#5 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 10:15 PM

orange barrels?

I was an industrial design major and had to take an elective in a crafts media area. The Three Dimensional programs shared some of the design and engineering classes. I took ceramics and was hooked. Spent nights firing the salt kiln needing to salt before dawn in downtown Philadelphia. Great education. I studied with Bill Daley, Paula Winokur, Petras Vaskys, Papa Renzetti, Julia Jackson, all my ceramics professors. Roland Jahn was mostly my glass prof but also taught ceramics.

Marcia Selsor, Professor Emerita,Montana State University-Billings

#6 Mark McCombs

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 11:38 PM

I am addicted to clay because with each new bag comes endless possibilities and dreams.

Fast Hawk Pottery

^5-6 Ox
1227 Skutt

#7 Mark C.

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 02:43 AM

I have no idea why I'm addicted but can say it started in 11th grade in high school (69) when a friend suggested after we both struggled on the wheel that we should take private lessons-it took me by surprise and I wanted to learn everything about clay and firing and kiln building I could by collage I was a sponge soaking up guys who just got out of Alfreds and got teaching jobs it was 1972-76 and I got what they had learned from the greats -guys like Rhodes and Randall and Nelson
These guys where burning like torches and I got a bit of it myself-turns out Its been like air breathing I cannot get enough
I still cannot answer your question why but its been a great life so far-kiln is glowing right now as it does every week.

Orange barrels where my fav in the 60's along with the filmore and love in's in SF and LA.
Mark Cortright

#8 SEWSart



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Posted 16 December 2012 - 01:26 AM

Ever since the 6th grade I've wanted to be an Architect. Because of that, in high school I was drawn to slab building in the ceramics class, and excelled at making forms with crazy joints that didn't crack! But my throwing work was abysmal. I decided that the best Architecture school for me was Iowa State University (mostly because it was in state).

That first year was crazy! The freedom to go to class or not, to do homework, or not, because it wasn't counted towards my grade really threw me off in a couple classes (I had been used to straight A's in HS). I think that's why I didn't get in to the Architecture program (Thank GOD!), and instead decided to stay in the design college as an fine arts major so I wouldn't have wasted a year of tuition.

Little did I know that would be the best decision of my life!

I graduated with a BFA and Ceramics/Painting major and Textile/Business Minors in 2008. I would have liked to go to graduate school or a residency of some sort, but I just couldn't make the money work, so I temped out of desperation basically. I've been subsequently hired into the accounting department of a magazine company, got married in 2010, and have slowly accumulated studio equipment/supplies. I've made a small amount of work thanks to cooping with a friend for kiln/studio usage, but you could say I've had a period of non-production. However, I think I needed the down time to collect myself and refine my goals/point of view. I still kept up with Ceramics Monthly, and something I've found with being an artist is that I always see the world now as inspiration to my muse. It's become my point of view. Even with the non creative day job, I have a huge advantage over my coworkers because I can see any problem from an entirely different perspective.

Now, I finally have my own Soldner pottery wheel! The wheel in addition to a refinement to the style & techniques I want to focus on have really ramped up my production levels. I love the tactile quality and challenge of pushing porcelain to its limits, and the fact that you can explore infinite possibilities with clay will always keep me interested for a life time.

#9 Nancy S.

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 09:28 PM

You know you're addicted when your first thought is, "How could one not be addicted?"

I actually gave this some thought days before even seeing this question, in a conversation where a non-potter said it looks like it could be addictive. I concurred effusively, and it was at that moment that I realized the third reason listed below:

1, control. Making things out of a formless lump of clay makes one feel vaguely god-like.
2, meditation. The hum of the wheel, the repetitive motion of wedging; some acts are hypnotic in their rhythm.
3, the learning curve. No one starts out perfect, but even when it's not perfect, there's something promising that makes you keep coming back for more. Something that makes you know that the next time, you can do better. There is always room for improvement, but it's not so daunting that it's discouraging.
4, perfection is not required. If you screw it up before it's fired, throw it in water and start over.
5. Clay is such a forgiving medium, unlike stone or wood -- Need a bit more in this spot? add some!

I didn't play in the mud as a child...I guess I'm making up for lost time. ;)

#10 Pres


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Posted 16 December 2012 - 11:30 PM


All through the school years I felt like I liked things a lot, but never had a "right" nothing hit me or made me feel belonging. I started taking Art Education my 4th year, after taking 3 years in a two year school. Yeah, I flunked out from over scheduling and partying. In Art Ed at new school, I was older than others, more focused once I experience studio classes. However, something happened when I took Ceramics. The feel of the clay through my fingers was soo - stimulating, erotic, exotic, mind blowing. The sense of touch is so often never used like in clay, I loved it. I overspent my time in the studio Centering throwing, and throwing out. Constantly, never kept a thing until last week of construction and then kept everything so that I had something to show. B for grade, long story, kept working Ceramics 2, grad school in Art Ed at Penn State, more throwing, handbuilding, teaching classes in HS, started own studio and did local shows, retired after 36 yrs. still throwing handbuilding, loving every minute. I still get blown away by the feel of the clay in my fingers spinning on the wheel, or assembling a form, never, never a dull moment!
Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . . http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/

#11 kilnpriestess



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Posted 18 December 2012 - 04:31 AM

Until now my clay addiction has not really driven me to record extremes in behavior. However, now that I have been without fresh commercial clay for over a full semester in Brunei Darussalam I find myself doing things to get an "earth" fix that few people seem willing to subject themselves to-I havAttached File  small-file-Berakas Beach.jpg   1.36MB   3 downloadse been trekking about in the blistering sun on the island of Borneo just to be close to a natural clay site that happens to exist down the road from where I work. I actually taught a university ceramics class last semester without clay or a working kiln. Obviously the students got credit for learning about ceramics in name only because I actually taught sculpture using salvaged driftwood and debris from the beach, since that was all that we could scavenge and work with. (I was not able to teach students about using found clay because it was not feasible.) My teaching a found-objects sculpture course was made easier by having very talented students who were willing to try making 3D work from what ever we could find, but I was still disappointed that I could not show them how to work with clay in any capacity. In my desire to find clay I have located some amazing nearby deposits of clay outcroppings that are decked-out in pitcher plants. These beautiful outcroppings occupy a small area near a public beach and concrete furnished BBQ site that is very popular with the local weekend crowd. The awesome clay and sand formations carved from sedimentary earth, are pretty much ignored by everyone because natural wonders like these are woefully under-appreciated by most people except die-hard outdoor enthusiasts like myself who swoon at the sight of minimalist natural splendor. Anyway, I am addicted to clay because this fabulous material from the earth can be appreciated and made into art using all manner of media. Currently I am making art from clay by just photographing it in situ. So, while I may not be able to continue with my ceramic work while I am teaching at the University of Brunei Darussalam, I am able to take pretty spectacular (in my opinion anyway) photos of clay in its wild state as a substrate for pitcher plants and other kinds of costal flora. Also, there are beautiful rocks to die for lying in small desert-like baked fields in the areas hidden in-between the bad-land like formations. These round, richly glazed rocks can also been seen littering the slopes of these same formations. Literally glazed in rich iron-red and ocher hues and buffed by the wind, these rocks look like they have been varnished to resemble desert petty-plain (a geological formation where little stones lock together on the desert floor and are glazed dark on one side by minerals) stones have been basted with metallic minerals that have washed out of the clay and other bad-land like sediments that once covered them. After a heavy rain it is easy to spot the tea colored water and sticky clay flows that create small alluvial fans and dark mineral pools along Berakas Beach. These natural formations are in turn taken out to sea when the tide comes in. I am addicted to clay because even without a person to mold it, clay is beautiful and life affirming.

P.S. I sure wish that I had my at-home library to look up geological terms and phrases. For more accuracy about geology per say, please look up some of my comments in a more professional context. I am at a real academic disadvantage where I work because of a lack of resources and even books here.

#12 Heidi



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Posted 18 December 2012 - 06:14 AM

Nancy's #2: Meditation

I started pottery lessons 3 years ago and loved it from day 1. I was diagnosed with T2 diabetes a couple of months later and realised recently that pottery was my coping mechanism.

#13 Denice


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Posted 18 December 2012 - 10:00 AM

I'm having a hard time remembering when I wasn't addicted, I think it was high school when I truly got hooked in a hand building class. I could not afford to go to college my dad didn't believe that women should be educated and kicked me out of the house when I was 18. So I slowly started building a studio, when I got married other couples were buying furniture or a washer we bought a kiln for our first purchase. I finally got my BA in Ceramics attending classes off and on through the years. I thought about switching away from clay after taking a oil painting class my last semester. The professors were raving about my work but I couldn't see what they saw and it certainly didn't have the magic that clay has. I guess there are worse things to be addicted to.

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