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Good day to you my friends.

 

I love it! Chilly, one of our forum members, wanted to reply to a question of another member (regarding a glazing issue) and thought "hey, that could be a good QOTW"! Thank you Chilly for sending the question to me and for being my guest for this week!

 

That's what Chilly sent me:

Pottery seems to be an art/craft where newbies have expectations greater than their starting skills.

When we first learn to write, we don't expect to produce a best-selling novel;
When learning to ride a horse or bike, we don't expect to take part in the Olympics the same year; Our first time at baking doesn't produce a three-tier wedding cake;

Why are expectations different for pottery?

 

Have a great week everybody!

 

Evelyne and Chilly

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maybe because the finished item that inspired the question of how to make it is so spectacular.  the total newbie does not know that the technique it took to make that item is truly difficult even for an experienced potter.  and so the innocent loaded question that really cannot be answered.

 

we see the olympic ice skater execute perfect moves and that makes a child want to be a skater.  that child wants to do that fabulous spin but does not know the work it took to get there.  same principle.

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I think for whatever reason now in many endeavors people feel they can just do whatever without the training. For example say climb Mount Everest. No training required where 30 years ago one would climb all the tall mountains first for training then attempt Everest-now they attempt with almost no training just money and a guide.

This is also true in scuba classes these days. You used to learn to swim and then hone water skills before leaning to dive now folks sign up who cannot swim.

Its a trend and its covers many many things-ceramics is just one aspect of this new world.

 

Paying dues is not part of the process until later when one realizes the complexities of the choices.I feel that this unrealistic expectation is now the new norm in life.

Why can't I be in the Olympics even though I never have practiced-this is the new I can do whatever thought process.

 

Folks die on Everest who are not trained well-drown in scuba as they cannot swim well and their dog or cat bowl comes out of kiln full of craters and looks bad. All part of the same process.The new norm.

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Technology Mark.

People do a search on their phone, fired it up in the kiln and expect the picture on their screen: does not work that way. I have been firing crystalline glaze for ten years: would say I am just now getting comfortable enough.

HOWEVER- do not let these posts discourage you from jumping into the clay ocean. You have to get wet before you learn to swim. As stated before: failures teach you just as much in this trade as the books do.

 

Nerd

 

by the way: pottery/glazing is not like a pizza you throw into a micro and hit start. You want a pottery pizza: learn to make it from scratch!

I have pretty much mastered crystalline (if that is possible), going to start learning throwing. After that, my only plan is to take a dirt nap.

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Guest JBaymore

I'm with you there Mark.

 

Saw the same thing happening in the snow skiing field when I was still teaching that.  See the same tendency in the clay field.  See the same tendency now in XXXXXXX (fill in the blank).  The age of Instant Gratification

 

People tend to see others who are at the end of LONG and deep careers in a field... and have put in the time and study and heartbreaks and the dues... and they tend to want that after 5 years of work.

 

I love the trend being talked about by some in academia ... that undergrad college is too long.... we need to drop it to only 3 years.  ???????  Heck....... we can't get enough covered in the 4 years!!!! 

 

best,

 

..................john

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I agree with all of the above ..Old Lady, Mark Nerd, and John. I use to have college kids come into Beginning ceramics and say "I want to make a dinner set".

Ok, I'd say." But first you need to learn how to center."

 And then we'd go from there.

 

Marcia

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@John, I am all for increasing the duration of undergrad, on the basis that we remove the classes that are unrelated to your major and are not even major electives. Stuff that the colleges basically have for fluff to charge more and make students stay longer. I would rather have 4 years of doing stuff in my major than 2 years of doing stuff in my major. It really annoyed me back when I was an economics major taking classes on chemistry and biology. I mean. I get the point, to be well rounded, but in most career fields people want solid skills that have depth, not well rounded people who know a tiny bit about the human body. Nothing more fun than going to Biology lab when you have 0 plans to ever do anything related to biology, when you could be learning about your actual major and interning, practicing, studying, taking other major classes. There are so many good major electives we could take if we didn't have to do the unrelated stuff and get a much better degree.

 

On the QOTW. Mark basically summed it up for me. People want to be good at things without putting in the work. This is more than ever amplified by the internet. When I was a kid we didn't have internet, when I had to figure out something I had to find someone who actually knew that subject, or go to the library and do the hard work of digging through hours and hours of books and resources to find out very little. 

 

This problem is very evident with video games. My son plays them and now he can just look up how to beat a level in a few minutes and beat it. When I played them as a young man we had to figure it out ourselves. There was many of games I never figured out how to beat. It was enjoyable and challenging, nowadays we can just find solutions to problems so easy it has taken away the will for people to challenge themselves to figure out things on their own and to learn the hard way. So we have these expectations that we can just jump into something and be good because we can research information about it so quickly. It is good and bad, its good because the things we need to know we can find. It is bad because the things we want to learn we don't have to figure out for ourselves and we lose the discovery phase and jump into the I can do this phase, when in reality we aren't ready. 

 

Just my thoughts. Good QOTW.

 

 

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Nerd,

I am aware of that. I agree, but you have to start somewhere. I have been doing ceramics for 50 years and there is always things to refine. I am happy with my throwing skills and threw my largest pieces this year. So little time; so much to know!

 

Marcia

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Guest JBaymore

: there is just too many roads to be able to walk them all in one lifetime.

 

 

I have 100 lifetimes all planned out.  :)

 

best,

 

................john

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To some degree, the vast amount of "how to" information/education on the Internet, and changes in equipment and thus process have fueled the "instant gratification", or "cut to the chase" mentality. Think about how digital cameras have changed the field of professional photography, and digital tools have changed how we construct graphic art, or write a book. We live in such a high-speed era, and the younger people are infused with it from day one. There are eight year olds who have more computer skills than I do (and I consciously work to keep up)! As Joseph notes, we lose the "discovery phase". I think it is quite a loss.

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I think there's a special component to clay that makes it feel more attainable. We all played with play dough when we were young. The lucky ones had art classes in school that included a clay session. The average person has likely made an ashtray (dating myself) or a spoon rest or the like. What you didn't know is the careful curation of glazes your teacher went through, or the fact that just the right clay for hand building was selected for you. Add to this the proliferation of the paint your own pottery places, the tendency of many to view clay as a 'craft' a la polymer clay from Michaels and the abundance of super cheap ceramic goods, it's easy to see why people underestimate the skills necessary.

 

Personally, the depth of knowledge needed is one of the reasons clay has kept me so fascinated for so long. There's always a new direction I can explore, a different technique I could learn.

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It's not just pottery, I think. Definitely depends on the person's attitude a lot too. And their natural talent, or otherwise.

 

External attitudes play a big part in these expectations too. I bet just about everyone who has a started pottery has had someone say to them "can you make a .....", as if anyone can just whip up a large, ornate, vase. Or produce a teapot that pours perfectly; has a perfectly fitting, recessed, lid and doesn't have walls so thick as to feel full even when it's empty, all having done classes for a couple of hours a week for 2 months.... There are two ways this can be taken as well, "I'm no good at this" or the more likely "they have no idea about this".

 

People I have encountered, particularly at work (I sell pottery for a living, handmade, but not my own work) have a funny view of what makes a potter. Apparently your niece who did a term of pottery classes is a 'potter'. Is your niece, who has her drivers licence, a 'driver' when you go to spectate at a Formula 1 or Nascar race? I don't think so....

 

 

I've taken a break from the pottery classes I was doing in order to practise on my own, now that I have a wheel, but the group environment of the classes let me see the whole range of natural affinity, work ethic, and attitudes. People who were disappointed that they didn't leave their first term of classes with a dinner set, never to return. Those who were seemingly happy to just play in the mud. And those who were ambitious but realised that it will take time and work...

 

I do a bit of sport coaching too. I often see people try to pull off something in a race run that they wouldn't normally attempt, or something well beyond their skill set, and then wonder why it didn't work out. So it's not just pottery!

 

Hopefully this isn't too all over the place, it  ended up as a stream of thought :)

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Two thoughts come to mind. One was when a person was watching a throwing demo and challenged the demonstrator for charging so much for a pot that took five minutes to throw. The demonstrator's response was-"not five minutes, 20 years and five minutes."

 

When I taught classes I would ask my students why they were taking the class. Every once in a while an absolute beginner would tell me the reason was to make XMas gifts for friends and family. I would encourage them but secretly be thankful I wasn't on their XMAs list.

 

Things that often look easy are the result of hard work and practice.

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A beginner student came into one of my classes with a beautiful ceramic rice cooker with a lid.  "I want to make this!" She enthusiastically announced.  I almost fell over laughing when she took the lid off, and the pot was still full of rice.

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A dear friend wanted to make an orchid bowl.  She came to my studio and spent 3 hours at the wheel.  I was totally impressed when she threw 2 tiny bowls that would have trimmed up nicely.   She asked me how long did I think it would take to make something large enough for an orchid.  I told her at least 6 weeks (I was trying to be nice, I didn't want to say 2 years).   She left and called me a few weeks later saying that she bought one. hmmmm.  And she is my age (over 60) and has tackled many challenges in her life.  So, in this case I can't blame it on her age, internet, or unrealistic expectations.  tb001 raised a valid point.....because we all grew up playing with clay or playdoh, I think people are surprised by the challenge of making a rice cooker or orchid pot. 

 

I spent years teaching remedial readers.  Talk about young people being able to face challenges!  Breaking the English language down to the smallest bits and putting all that together requires great patience and willingness to fail and try again.  I wonder if those kids would make good potters??  Because that is what it takes with clay.  Lots of patience, willingness to keep learning, and not being afraid of failure. 

 

Roberta

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I totally agree! This is one of the reasons that I advocate for the arts in the public school system. This is probably the only area where early learners can find a talent, by doing. I believe that having Ceramics classes in HS that include such things as hand building, throwing, and firing will allow a student to see if they have some sort of feel for clay. I never had a clay experience of this sort until college, and that hooked me. Printmaking, Weaving, Jewelry and metalcraft, Sculpture, Painting and so many more venues of expression in Art, not to mention Drama, Creative writing, and Music, of often the first to go under the pressures of high stakes testing and budget constraints. Kids need to find out early where their talents are, otherwise they may not ever find them. Even in a college situation there is a limitation on how many electives you can take, even if you think they may just be fun. . . heaven forbid! 

 

Students need to be reminded that all things take time to grasp, and that there are some that may grasp them quicker than others, and just because they may not be able to draw, does not mean they could not sculpt or pot, or something else. We all come to realize, even here on the forum that there are those of us with inherent strengths, and as a group we recognize who to go to for specific areas. This is a realization that our personal expectations have been met, but we need help. One of the great reasons to be a participant in a forum like CAD. B)

 

 

best,

Pres

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Wow, such fast responses to the question.  

 

Every one of your comments rings true.  I'd thought it was just pottery where people wanted instant success, but it seems not.  Scuba diving, climbing mountains, snow skiing - everything?

 

I think the instant gratification of the internet where you can ask a question and get an instant answer hasn't helped.  No waiting for the library to open tomorrow and then searching the book-shelves for the book that answers half the question and then looking in another 3 or 4 for the rest of the info.

 

 

I liked Joseph's "People want to be good at things without putting in the work".  

 

 

 

Dinner is calling, I'll finish this later - sorry, but when someone is cooking you canNOT make them wait.....

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I like peoples big aspirations and dreams but if you can't deal with failure then you quickly find pottery is not for you. No problem with people being naive and expecting to make great things before they have learnt anything.

 

I disagree about the internet or young people being the problem these days and the search for instant gratification has always been a human instinct. It has been played on by consumerism and advertising for much longer than the internet.  

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I’m going to go with what Joel wrote and bounce off that.


 


The Stanford Marshmallow / Cookie Experiment demonstrated that those people who could delay gratification tended to be more successful in many areas of life than those seeking immediate gratification. (done pre internet in the late 60’s and early 70’s)


 


Extrapolating from that, perhaps the people who keep plugging away at ceramics are those that are able to practice delayed gratification.

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I must say the responses to this weeks QQW strike me as a commentary on social changes. Many commenting were teens during the free love hippie movement of the 60's: what happened to that sense of freedom? Like most, my parents told me I could accomplish most anything; with the qualification that I had to do the work to obtain it. Yes, self gratification is a human trait. When younger I would stop at the bar until I was gratified.(When do I get my 40 years sober pin?) So I guess I get to ask the tough question: are young people just like us when we were their age? The difference being we have become our parents who always threw water on our dreams.

I got into the pottery biz just ten short years ago: with no prior experience. In part because I have always loved art, and partly because I like learning new things, and partly because I was naive!! Truth told, I had seen a crystalline vase in Williamsburg VA, and I was determined to figure it out. So out of the gate I worked with porcelain, mixed my own glaze ( have never used premixed), and learned to fire a kiln: without instructors. (I could tell some stories.) I still had the dream of the young, but the tempered expectation of the aged. Ten years have passed, and now I will take up throwing: and my expectation is it will take me 5-7 years to even get close.

 

For the younger: I have been a carpenter for 42 years, spending several of those years being an instructor in the union hall. For years I told the apprentices this same line, trying to teach them about expectations and experience.

 

" A professional will make a hard job appear easy"

 

Nerd

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I don't think it is just this young generation that wants instant gratification, if I sounded like that in my earlier post I came across wrong. I was just simply stating that it seems more common in that generation because of ease of access. I just think it is easier to get the feeling of it with the internet being around. You can look up stuff and be like, oh I can do that. Where a while ago, you had just find someone or a really good book to explain it. There wasn't billions of people posting and combing through information like there is now. If you want to learn to play golf, you had to go play, you couldn't look up videos on how to improve your stroke and see them in about 30 seconds like you can now. You had to either go to pro club, find a golfer friend, or order videos from a magazine. Still this would take a while, which put things into a slower perspective that this is going to be hard work. Compared to now, "how to golf", watch some videos. I CAN DO THIS! 

 

I would have never made it in clay if it wasn't for this forum. So I am thankful for the internet, but I have been through the uninformed optimism curve many times in my life, so I know what it takes to be good at something. For those who don't know what I am talking about I always refer people to this curve when they start feeling like they can't do something or that they want to quit.

 

change_positive.gif

 

It really puts things into perspective. Everyone is excited to start something new, so your mood is great, as you start learning you get into a negative, this is too hard, I want to quit mood. Only when you stick it out do you start to have informed optimism that you can do things. Then highly satisfied when you finish. This is the basics of almost any type of learning, but so many people go through their life not knowing this basic idea. 

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joe, one way to learn not to give up is to start swimming across a river.  you can't just stop in the middle.  (unless it is the Shenandoah which in summer can be knee deep all the way across, except where it is shallow.)

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Guest JBaymore

For SURE this is not about "the younger generation"... it is not an 'age thing'... it is attitudinal.  I see the same thing in ALL age groups.

 

best,

 

..................john

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