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  1. I am a 55 year-old who is taking Fine Arts classes at the local community college. I have worked through Drawing, Painting, 2-D, and 3-D classes. I have been told by my instructors I have a modest talent. This semester I took a Methods and Materials class, which is basically Ceramics -100. The teacher has 4 classes going on at one time in one room: Ceramics, 1,2, and Studio. AND my class, which consists of me. I am supposed to complete the same projects as the other classes. They are all 3 hours long, 3 times/week. My class is 2 hours, 2X/week. I was very excited to work with clay. Then the excitement waned. My pinch pots were uneven. My coiled pots too tight. My englobed slab-roller box had sides that caved in and cracks at the joints. My projects looked like Kindergarten pieces compared to the other's....20 year-old students. Ah, now to start throwing on the wheel! Centering is not that bad! I can tell when I'm off and it's right. I am very pleased. Finally! Something done right. Making a cylinder. I can't seem to use my knuckle to pull the clay upward. I get a thin base which breaks off almost every time. I try time and time again. The teacher spends about 10 minutes with me each class. When I can't pull the clay up for my cylinder, she becomes very exasperated. I find that if I use my fingertips, I do better feeling the clay. I make a couple of nice bowls, but no cylinder. She sits down next to me and we center, open...she is using her knuckle and I am using my fingertips. I still can't get higher than about 4 inches. My base is too thin and the piece shears off. I ask her what I am doing wrong, and she tells me she doesn't know and can't help me because I don't use her technique. It's Spring Break. I found a Pottery that will rent me a wheel. I spend three hours practicing, still with minimal success. The owner comes by and gives me advice and some pointers. I pull a 7 inch cylinder, wobbly, but still recognizable. I am elated! I plan to spend as many hours as I can to get to a comfort zone with clay and pull the cylinders. The ottery will Bisque fire my pieces, too. My teacher mentioned Glazes come next. I am bewildered. I have *4* books I purchased from Amazon, all of which are not helpful. I'm sorry for the lengthy intro. My questions: Can anyone tell me what I am doing wrong trying to pull up a piece with my fingertips? I try not to dig in my fingers, but I still get that too-thin base that spins off. How wet is too wet, and how dry is too dry? Glazes..does anyone know a book/DVD/You tube explanation so I can know what I am supposed to do?
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