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Member Since 25 Apr 2015
Offline Last Active May 20 2017 02:41 AM

Posts I've Made

In Topic: Help! Newbie Struggling With How Much Water?

18 May 2017 - 03:32 PM

I know the feeling.


When you watch someone else, it looks like they are working with clay the consistency of thick yogurt.  When you try it, the clay feels like almost set concrete.


Follow the advice above and just keep trying.  It took me about two years (intermittently at evening classes) to get the clay to centre and cone up and down.  It's just a case of getting in the zone, try it with your eyes closed, and pushing the clay with your mind as much as with your body.  It's a whole body workout, not your fingers, not your hands, not your arms, not your shoulders, not your back or your stomach, but all of them working together.


Experts make everything look easy, the rest of us have to practice, practice and then practice some more.


Yes to all this. :) :) :) 

In Topic: Help! Newbie Struggling With How Much Water?

17 May 2017 - 01:44 PM

I taught myself to throw through watching every pottery video I could find, reading every article, trial, and lots and lots of error.


I really loved this book: https://www.amazon.c...k/dp/1600592449 It may seem odd to learn wheel throwing from a book but this is presented very well with photographs of hand positions that are hard to see isolated in a video. 


I agree that it sounds like your clay is way too firm. I didn't even realize in the beginning that it was part of my struggle that I was using hard clay. When I switched over to a different soft stoneware it was amazing what a difference it made. Every once in a while I decide to "use up" some older clay that has gone a little too dry and every time I regret that decision and I remember over again why that doesn't work for me. 


If you can, look on this as purely a learning experience. If you keep on persevering and making use of all the resources at your disposal you will come out the other side. I joined this forum a couple years ago as a rank beginning thrower and have received nothing but helpful kind suggestions and a generous sharing of knowledge from so many lovely people with decades more experience than I. :)

In Topic: Bubbles In Black Stoneware

11 May 2017 - 03:16 PM

This is a very common issue with dark clay bodies, as Bruce said. I haven't used it myself but everybody I know who does has had a similar issue for the reasons described above. I hope a hold works to solve the issue for you! :)

In Topic: Nine Warning Signs Of An Amateur Artist

11 May 2017 - 12:20 AM



If you come up to a problem or some sort of limitation to moving forward, and cannot figure a way around or through it, and just give up then what?







I've always felt that if I can only come up with one solution to a problem I'm doing something wrong,


While teaching, it was my set policy to always give the student at least 3 choices when asked to solve a problem for them. Kept things from being too much the "Teachers pot". Also demonstrated on another piece of clay whenever possible, not on their pot.







I like this!! Something tells me I would enjoy having you for a teacher, Pres! :) 

In Topic: Qotw: The Psychological Ups And Downs With Clay

11 May 2017 - 12:15 AM

I was just talking this over with someone so it's funny that it has come up here as well. 


I have definitely had my ups and downs, fits and starts. Originally I was making clay stamps to sell online since I first was introduced to clay when my son was very small and it was not an option for me to pursue ceramics more fully. Originally I intended to transition to functional pottery while still making stamps but I have found that I have little to no desire to continue making and selling stamps when I have all these pots in my head begging to be made. 


The past 2.5 years since I started teaching myself to throw have been a roller coaster. The first six months I couldn't even center because I was so stressed out about not being able to center. Eventually I told myself that no matter how long it took, I was determined to learn and in the meantime I was going to have F U N. Within a week I was centering my pots and making finished items for the first time. 

Once I could reliably make mostly what I wanted, I tended to spend 6-12 weeks making, then two glazing, then not touch clay for a month or two because my glaze results were not what I had hoped for.

January of last year I changed over half the glazes I was using due to an issue with the QC and customer service of the manufacturer, but I was too impatient to test, which resulted in four kiln loads in a row with 50% or more failure rate. One kiln load had 23 out of 27 pieces unable to be sold because of a single mistake I made. From January to July I became so frustrated and depressed that I seriously considered giving up ceramics for good and going back to the simpler, easier, safer stamps. From July to October everything clicked with the glazes and for the first time since I took up ceramics I started to have flawless kiln loads. After my huge two weekend studio show in October I decided to take a couple weeks off and promptly became sick, then having three back to back colds and bronchitis it was January before I went back in the studio. 

For the first time since I started learning to throw I find that I am in a rhythm of work that is starting to feel like it's sustainable, I really can keep doing this, I really am making something people want to buy! 


Some things I have learned, and I remind myself of them over and over to get me out of my funk:


1. When I have a high failure rate it is ALWAYS because I am taking risks and moving outside of my comfort zone. This includes flopping pots as I learn a new shape or weight of clay, trying out a new glaze technique, or seeing if I can eliminate a step from my process. Sometimes it fails and sometimes it succeeds but I learn the most from the failures. 


2. Just because I don't like it, doesn't mean somebody else might not love it. I have stopped pointing out flaws real or imagined, and just thanking people for the compliments. 


3. If I am feeling upset or overwhelmed or depressed, I always feel better if I put some clay in my hands. The answer is not to give up and close my studio, but to let myself go out there MORE than I already do. :)