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natalieck

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Hi everyone. I have been very interested in learning wheel throwing. I’ve never worked with any sort of pottery before except for 1 time at a pottery studio my son, we did a little private pottery class but it wasn’t a ton of teaching, more of an experience. I am wanting to know how did everyone learn. I am 36 and want to learn this art. Have any of you started learning later in life instead of really young? There is a lady that does 6 qty. 3 hour classes that will be starting soon. Does everyone start with classes or do some of you learn on your own? My husband is all for it and even said I can buy my own equipment if I wanted. That being said, if I take classes, I won’t get much practice in without my own equipment right? Any tips, info, suggestions will be really appreciated.  Thanks for any info... 

Edited by natalieck

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Hi Natalie!

Pres started a new question of the week on how long did learning to throw take - looks like the consensus converges on throwing skill bein' a lifelong journey!

Any road, likely many of the forum regulars will recommend class(es) to start, and access to equipment for regular practice.

In class, you might get some good instruction, see some good work being done, while meeting new folks as well and trying out throwing without a big investment.

I'd been interested in throwing for 'bout forty years, finally got into th' local JC last spring for Wheel I (I'm in Wheel II now); after a few months, we found a deal on a used (barely) wheel. A few months further on, we found a used kiln and made a trip to Aardvark Clay to pick up ~1200 pounds of clay, glaze ingredients, etc.

My only in person instructor gives a short demo now and again, mostly turns the class loose to practice, practice, practice - she follows up with those who are struggling, and responds to questions from there. I prefer that over an avalanche of directions, hovering, control, etc. I've learned much*, and there's sooo much more to learn! I say "in person" on account o' there's so much available via book, magazine, and online. Later I'll post a list of authors and You Tube folks... it's time to ride!

 

  *don't be afraid to make mistakes - that's how we learn, eh? lol! ...oh, ah knowed a loot about pottery (iow, have made a loot of mistakes!!) For me, practice is key - when I get four or five sessions in a week, it shows - perhaps not right away, haha; on the other hand, lack of practice also tells.

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You might want to enroll for a class like you describe that also gives you studio time for practice.

Because the equipment is really expensive for most people , it could be useful to start out taking a class where you use studio equipment.

My first class, as someone who started learning after age 60, was at a community center.  We could come in any time over a broad range of hours to work in the studio outside of class.

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1 hour ago, natalieck said:

Hi everyone. I have been very interested in learning wheel throwing. I’ve never worked with any sort of pottery before except for 1 time at a pottery studio my son, we did a little private pottery class but it wasn’t a ton of teaching, more of an experience. I am wanting to know how did everyone learn. I am 36 and want to learn this art. Have any of you started learning later in life instead of really young? There is a lady that does 6 qty. 3 hour classes that will be starting soon. Does everyone start with classes or do some of you learn on your own? My husband is all for it and even said I can buy my own equipment if I wanted. That being said, if I take classes, I won’t get much practice in without my own equipment right? Any tips, info, suggestions will be really appreciated.  Thanks for any info... 

I'm 47 and I started in mid March by taking a class at a local ceramics studio, 3 hrs once a week, same as yours. They allow people to come in and practice during normal hours if you are taking a class, so practice was not a big deal (except my stupid "real world" job taking up those hours). I say go for the class and hopefully they let you practice outside of class. My studio has an hourly fee for folks that want to do that with no classes. I am currently in my 4th class,  handbuilding this time.  Learning on your own is hard, I need feedback as I go and it's been great. I found a used wheel and kiln at the end of July and started throwing at home and it has been great! Find out if the studio will let you practice there and good luck!

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If you've got the opportunity to take classes, do so.  There is only so much you can learn from books and videos.  A good teacher will encourage you, spot where you need to improve etc.  I never got past centreing, (no teacher) and have given up trying to throw, now I just enjoy hand-building and encouraging others to have a go.  

Welcome and enjoy.

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My pottery skills were aquired by many many hours of practice in the studio. That along with taking as many clay classes as I could for additional instruction. It wasn’t till after spending a lot of time in the studio that I was able to benefit from watching videos on YouTube and such to see different techniques and forms. But I will say after gaining my own experiences in the studio spending non studio time watching YouTube demos and sketching pots helped and still helps a ton. Pottery can be a never ending journey of learning but it’s a pretty awesome one. Good luck!

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Take classes, you will learn something new from every teacher you have, this book was one I found helpful many years ago when I was learning to throw, “Pottery on the Wheel” by Elisabeth S. woody I did see the book for under $5 on line and internet videos were something not available when I was a young potter.  I made a throwing video back in the 1970’s it was a grant funded project I was asked to do with one of the professors, probably good for everyone I don’t think it ever made the transition to digital.

good luck

Edited by 1515art

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5 hours ago, Hulk said:

later I'll post a list of authors and You Tube folks... it's time to ride!

There are so many resources! Here's a few books I liked

  The Art and Craft of Clay by Susan Peterson

  The Craft of the Potter by Michael Casson (see also his BBC video clips)

  Getting Into Pots by the Wettlaufers

If you get into glazes, try John Britt's book, and Hesselberth and Roy's book. ...so many books! See also Tony Hansen's website and Hesselberth at FrogPondPottery.com, search "mighty mud mixer" and see glazy.org

Online

  Tony Hansen's You Tube videos and DigitalFire website

  Instructional videos, search Tim See, Hsin-Chuen Lin, Ingleton Pottery, Marc Mancuso, Susan Bass, Earth Nation ...so many videos! Check out NHK World "Ceramic Treasures" series, cool stuff.

 This forum, always something goin' on, and the search function brings back what's been.

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Taking a class is the best way, to know if it's something you'd be interested in doing, long term. 

A class is a small investment, and if you end up not liking throwing, or ceramics in general, you didn't lose much other than a bit of free time.  As opposed to spending thousands of dollars, on very specific tools and supplies, only to realize you really don't like it. 

Best of luck in your journey, there are many obstacles and frustrations, but it is definitely worth it.

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Take classes.  The dream of being a potter or playing with clay maybe upset by the reality of things you can't control, like back pain, allergies to dust, always having rough dry hands.   Your instructor will be able to give advice on how to do things easier - things that might take you months or years to discover on your own.  I also find that the  interaction with other students improves me and changes my work.  Seeing things online are ok, but being able see it done, walk around the demo, look at it from another angle, touch the clay at each stage, that is worth much, much more. 

Nancy

 by the way I started classes at age 50.

Edited by mnnaj

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Like you, I started with a 6 week Learning Exchange class about 10 years ago when I was 61. I fell in love with playing in the mud! Since then, I've taken 3 courses at a local JC, acquired my own equipment, all of it used except my Raku kiln which I built myself. I also converted a studio apartment I own into my pottery studio. I unfortunately do not spend as much time there as I would like because of other activities I'm involved with, but with the shorter days of winter here, I'll get to spend my evenings creating one masterpiece after another:)

Books and videos are all over the place, but I think that personal instruction is extremely helpful when you are just getting started, no matter what age. I should help provide some direction as you start your new journey slogging in the mud...

JohnnyK

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definitely buy your own equipment once you decide you really want to do pottery. Classes are great and hours of practice will get you there. It's hard to really rack up any serious practice hours in someone else's studio and when you are starting out that is what puts you over the top. It doesn't have to break the bank. A used 6-7cf electric kiln, a good starter wheel ($600 clay BOSS I think is a fine starter) and some buckets and hand tools will get you started. If you've got the dough a slab roller will make hand built work a lot easier.

Pottery is a great hobby and tons of fun, just dive in! Don't know what kind of day job you have but putting on some tunes and throwing some pots in the off hours is a great way to unwind.  

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Definitely start with classes.  Find a way to have time to practice on your own.  While you are taking classes, do some reading, watch some videos, ask some questions.  You may find you do not like wheel work as much as hand building, or vice versa.  I started at 52 and never looked back.  12 years later I still make it a priority to take classes or workshops.  It's a great way to build skills and connect with others.  I would advise you to hold off on purchasing equipment until you have had some experience with clay.  The classes will help you define exactly what it is you like and don't like about clay.  Best of luck to you!

Roberta

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A junior college class (or other) is a good place to start. It will give you a feel for if you want to go further.

Hopefully finding instruction in throwing that is worthwhile technically.

My JC instructor taught us noobs nearly nothing. He just instructed us what to do.

My best advice is to throw as much as possible and shy away from keeping the pots. In other words, throw a few, kneed them back up, then throw some more until you really get a good feel.

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Hi Natalie,

I started with a hand building class once a week when I was 60 and found I learned masses about a subject that I knew absolutely nothing about. It showed me that I wanted to continue to learn more, but I really wanted to learn to throw. It looks easy right!!!! So don't let age even be an issue.

Eventually I set up a small shed in my garden with an electric kiln, wheel, and tried to learn how to throw. I really struggled as I had no-one to ask for advice about how to actually do this. Things like, which was the best clay, which glazes worked well with which clays. In fact absolutely everything.

Unfortunately living here in Turkey I didn't have the luxury of other classes to attend and  suppliers of all those wonderful products that everyone here recommends. Don't even get me started on being able to get my hands on items for making my own glazes.

Because normally everything you see on Youtube etc is being performed by someone that is actually good they make it look effortless.

Youtube and places like these forums are great but they don't allow you to feel that clay under your fingers and ask what am I doing wrong? How can I do it better?  

So my advice to you would be give classes a go, gain as much information as you can.  It will be money well spent, and I bet you will soon know if you want to go to the expense of setting up your own work space.

Good luck with what ever you decide. I'm sure you will love it.

Edited by pritchpat
typo

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