Jump to content

Newbie needs advice/input


Recommended Posts

Hello all, I'm a beginning potter, though I have had at least three formal classes (spread out over two decades). I would love to be part of another class, but because of the virus and my insane work schedule, I can't take part in one right now. I'm mostly interested in hand building. I have two open studio options. Option One:  Open studio at a very reasonable price. It's a community arts center, and I have access to everything in this well equipped place. I am not responsible for firing (which is good 'cause I've never done it and know almost nothing about it). The studio is about a 50 minute drive from my home, and thus studio time would take about half of one of my days off.

Option Two: Open studio at $20 an hour. It's a very small privately owned studio. I know this is expensive. The potter will be around and can answer some questions but there's no formal instruction. It's about 15 minutes drive from my house. Supplies are included. I haven't been to any classes there yet. There is a handbuilding class during the week, but it ends right before my work shift starts. I could probably get cleaned up and get to work on time, if all goes well.

With Option One, I'm not getting much guidance. Admittedly, I was told that the master potter in charge of the studio would not be giving instruction, but that others might be around and we could work together. So far, I was there totally alone once. I'm OK with that, on a certain level. But I sent a text message with a number of questions, including whether or not a clear glaze needed to go over an underglaze, and what brand were the underglazes, and received a response telling me where the underglazes could be found, and to just play around with them. Some of my questions went unanswered. Maybe I'm expecting too much?

When questions go unanswered, I start to feel upset. Part of why I am doing this is b/c my therapist recommended I get out of the house and office and do something I like to do. Like many others, I've had a very hard time emotionally with the pandemic.

I feel rather overwhelmed by all there is to learn. In fact, it's mind boggling.I know there are dozens of books, videos, groups, etc. and I've been watching and trying to learn...but I think I need more guidance. 

I could also work at home, both with air dry and clay from the community place. It's not ideal (whose house is?)  and it sort of defeats the purpose of getting out of the house.

In case anyone is wondering whose videos I'm watching, I'm a member of Clayshare Prime, I like Jon the Potter, Danielle the Clay Lady, Andrea Akerib.

Thank you for listening. I'm open to any and all advice.

edit: The community studio is not open year round.  The other, I believe, is.

Edited by ladyinblack1964
forgot to add something important
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What strikes me is this is going to be a very personal decision perhaps even influenced by the upcoming winter weather. There may be no perfect answer and trying both out might be a way to narrow this down or even deciding one is better during the winter than the other. As far as learning, always super nice to get instruction but also with all the content on the web a nice opportunity to learn on your own. So the pandemic is bad, but web learning opportunities have never been better and ……. People do become masters of their trade, craft, art  by practice, application and study. Instruction is great but even with instruction practice is the only way to mastery.

Maybe schedule the most travel convenient for the winter months and in the summer you can join the other. Both experiences likely will be beneficial and you get to choose when.

As far as overwhelming knowledge, from my perspective, in clay there are many components to learn but learning step by step is really how humans progress. I enjoy learning and after over half a century it truly is what I enjoy most. A very wise person once told me when I was in my teens and was mad at myself for not accomplishing something fast enough muttering under my breath in disgust ……. He said “be careful how you treat yourself” that has stuck with me since and now when I look back I am pretty satisfied with all that I  have learned and,  excited about what I might get to learn tomorrow.

For me I just need to add effort to my latest interest and pursue opportunities as I find them available. Not all work out perfect but over time they all seem to add nicely to a growing knowledge base.

I wish you best of luck on your  journey!

Edited by Bill Kielb
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So it sounds like you’re trying to solve a couple of problems. The first is getting out of the house, and the other is getting some clay guidance. I think that a sweet spot can be found, but it’ll take breaking it down into a couple of steps. 

I don’t think an almost 2 hour round trip to go to a clay studio is feasible, even on a good mental health day. Add to that the frustration of no guidance for a beginner, and….Just thinking about it is a big, fat nope. 

You still need a bit of structure and a source of answers though. If it were me, I’d  take that handbuilding class that’s close to home. Hands on instruction is head and shoulders the preferable choice, especially as a learner.  Let your instructor know that you need to leave a few minutes early, so you might need a cleanup signal a few minutes ahead of the others. 

After the class is done, you still need out of the house. So then you want to pay for a number of studio hours at the nearby place that fits your budget, and combine that with a little working at home. Transporting work is a nuisance, but it can be done and it’s much better than not working at all.

  Once you’ve had an in person class, there’s a LOT of things in the videos that will make a lot more sense, so working independently at the studio and at home will be easier.

Watch all the free videos you can get your mitts on, from artists at all skill levels. There’s lots to pick up from them. But know that it IS worth it to pay for some specific instructional ones if you get stuck or need something fun to try. (You really, really really want to take that workshop from Sunshine Cobb on Clayshare!) There are also a number of really fun ones on this website, and so many potters on every social media platform have started offering workshops or other tutorials online in the last year. 

Finally, if you have any other questions on “how to,” this forum is reasonably active, and you can usually have answers from someone within a few hours.  And that’s assuming the question isn’t already in the archive somewhere. The free information trove here is pretty extensive.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

some people will become insulted by my answer.  try not to be.  the word underglaze defines  a substance to go under  a   glaze.    if that substance has a color you want to see put it under a clear glaze.     that is it.    do not try to put something labelled underglaze   on   top   of a glaze.     that is just logical.       read the label on everything you use.  

lady, there is a commonly used phrase, "no question is a dumb question" that just irritates me.   some are not really dumb but are so basic that it is an indication of disrespect to ask.  and i am one of the biggest offenders.   my lack of understanding of math is crippling but people here are very good at translating it.  thank all of you.

 it is good to remember that even though today we are conditioned to know everything at all times about every subject and provide the correct answer immediately.   if not,  something is wrong with us.     learning comes in small doses but sometimes there are ways to learn that only involve thinking.

please read the first sentence again.

Edited by oldlady
correction
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I once took a workshop with Sandi Pierantozzi. She is an amazing hand builder and teacher. She has an instructional video titled “What if?” that is available in the Ceramic Arts Network store (you can get there through links at the top of this page). I think it would be a worthy investment.

I also recommend Christy Knox as an amazing hand builder. Here’s her website, where she has a variety of videos that you can watch for free, and she makes new videos on a regular basis. https://www.christyknox.com/videos

Edited by GEP
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Strangely enough, @ladyinblack1964, I was the provider for one such search by a couple of secretaries in my school district. These older ladies wanted to experience clay, and had often chided me to provide a class for them. I didn't have any place to have classes, as my tiny one car garage was packed, but they were relentless. One day I told them that if they could talk the superintendent, their boss, into letting me teach a saturday class in the winter in the HS that I would do it for free, and charge tuition to build a fund for studio improvements as the art department was always short of budget for new equipment. They prevailed, and I started teaching the class back in the late 80's, and it is still taught today(at least before covid). This class only lasted 6 weeks, on Saturdays in mid winter, usually from 9 to noon, tuition was $60 with materials extra based on fired weight of clay. I taught the class basics in the first two classes as 1 hr sessions with work after and open for last four classes. Always student based on what they wanted to explore. Maybe you could find some way to prevail upon your local art teachers to provide something like this. Over the years the class I taught bought 4 potters wheels, a new bailey extruder, kiln shelves, workbenches and throwing stools.  Good luck!

 

best,

Pres

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd put money saved on gas for a distance I probably would get tired of real quick into hours I could book nearby at my convenience--getting out and doing something is better than staying in and doing nothing. I make decent small items that I can peddle locally and that helps me at lease break even. Personally I can't stand unanswered questions-I'd rather get a "sorry, no time to answer, try someone/somewhere else" than dead silence.  There's a lot of inadequate-poor-just plain wrong-info about claywork on the Internet /FB, as well as "taught" in some community studios, but I can trust the recommendations found here, especially for online resources like specific workshops/videos. For me, since I am not into production or making money, my best approach is to keep it simple and just have some fun while I explore & learn whatever it is I'm focusing on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/10/2021 at 7:52 AM, GEP said:

I once took a workshop with Sandi Pierantozzi. She is an amazing hand builder and teacher. She has an instructional video titled “What if?” that is available in the Ceramic Arts Network store (you can get there through links at the top of this page). I think it would be a worthy investment.

I also recommend Christy Knox as an amazing hand builder. Here’s her website, where she has a variety of videos that you can watch for free, and she makes new videos on a regular basis. https://www.christyknox.com/videos

I just watched Christy's videos! Wowza!  Great step by step and beautiful work!

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Any of the fourteen public community colleges in Pennsylvania nearby? I got a start at our local community college - the instructor stayed plenty busy with the other students, and all the "side work" of moving ware about, loading/unloading kilns, etc. No matter, great opportunity to start learning, not just access to tools and materials, no, also seeing all the work (from all the classes, not just my night class) and watching the other students - some had a'ready developed some skill, and some just starting/stumbling out... 

I'll suggest giving the community studio a look - fifty minutes is a bit of a drive, yah, but there's likely more people to learn from and with, eh? More action, more variety. Hopefully you'll be starting to get pleased with some of your efforts early on, and sometime later on, looking back on your progress, begin to get an idea of how much more there is to learn/master.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

well, christy knox has just shown you exactly how i start my stuff.   her things are wonderfully beautiful.  the layout of plants, the colors she uses, the care taken to get everything just right is shown so perfectly that i have given up any idea that i would make a video.

notice how many patterns she has stored in those shelves near the window.  it would be a feast just to visit her studio.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, oldlady said:

well, christy knox has just shown you exactly how i start my stuff.   her things are wonderfully beautiful.  the layout of plants, the colors she uses, the care taken to get everything just right is shown so perfectly that i have given up any idea that i would make a video.

notice how many patterns she has stored in those shelves near the window.  it would be a feast just to visit her studio.

@oldlady, I saw the same thing!  All of her embossing plates in neat racks by the windows!!!!  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/10/2021 at 1:14 AM, Callie Beller Diesel said:

So it sounds like you’re trying to solve a couple of problems. The first is getting out of the house, and the other is getting some clay guidance. I think that a sweet spot can be found, but it’ll take breaking it down into a couple of steps. 

I don’t think an almost 2 hour round trip to go to a clay studio is feasible, even on a good mental health day. Add to that the frustration of no guidance for a beginner, and….Just thinking about it is a big, fat nope. 

You still need a bit of structure and a source of answers though. If it were me, I’d  take that handbuilding class that’s close to home. Hands on instruction is head and shoulders the preferable choice, especially as a learner.  Let your instructor know that you need to leave a few minutes early, so you might need a cleanup signal a few minutes ahead of the others. 

After the class is done, you still need out of the house. So then you want to pay for a number of studio hours at the nearby place that fits your budget, and combine that with a little working at home. Transporting work is a nuisance, but it can be done and it’s much better than not working at all.

  Once you’ve had an in person class, there’s a LOT of things in the videos that will make a lot more sense, so working independently at the studio and at home will be easier.

Watch all the free videos you can get your mitts on, from artists at all skill levels. There’s lots to pick up from them. But know that it IS worth it to pay for some specific instructional ones if you get stuck or need something fun to try. (You really, really really want to take that workshop from Sunshine Cobb on Clayshare!) There are also a number of really fun ones on this website, and so many potters on every social media platform have started offering workshops or other tutorials online in the last year. 

Finally, if you have any other questions on “how to,” this forum is reasonably active, and you can usually have answers from someone within a few hours.  And that’s assuming the question isn’t already in the archive somewhere. The free information trove here is pretty extensive.

 

Thank you very much! The last class I had was in the summer of 2019, so, yes, I could use a refresher.

I might not have been clear in my original post. Option One is the place where I can take clay home and then transport it. I'm not sure Option Two would include that--I'll have to ask the owner.

I LOVE Sunshine Cobb's book. I didn't know she had a workshop on Clayshare. Thanks for pointing that out!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/11/2021 at 11:27 AM, Hulk said:

Any of the fourteen public community colleges in Pennsylvania nearby? I got a start at our local community college - the instructor stayed plenty busy with the other students, and all the "side work" of moving ware about, loading/unloading kilns, etc. No matter, great opportunity to start learning, not just access to tools and materials, no, also seeing all the work (from all the classes, not just my night class) and watching the other students - some had a'ready developed some skill, and some just starting/stumbling out... 

I'll suggest giving the community studio a look - fifty minutes is a bit of a drive, yah, but there's likely more people to learn from and with, eh? More action, more variety. Hopefully you'll be starting to get pleased with some of your efforts early on, and sometime later on, looking back on your progress, begin to get an idea of how much more there is to learn/master.

There is a public community college nearby, but they do not have any ceramics classes.  There are actually four colleges that offer for-credit ceramics classes (one of which I took over 20 years ago). One stopped hosting continuing ed courses before Covid, and the potter does not offer any kiln time, open studio, or anything.  Another is the one where I took a class 2 summers ago. They cancelled their fall continuing ed because of the Delta variant.

Part of what makes this so challenging for me is that I work 2nd shift, until midnight. You might think it would be easy to find a pottery class on a Saturday, but for some reason, nope. They all seem to be in the evenings, which baffles me.

Anyway...I have been to the community studio. I worked alone one Saturday afternoon. I was told that there were going to be interns from a local college around, but since it was a holiday weekend, I imagine they might have had other plans.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/10/2021 at 9:03 PM, LeeU said:

I'd put money saved on gas for a distance I probably would get tired of real quick into hours I could book nearby at my convenience--getting out and doing something is better than staying in and doing nothing. I make decent small items that I can peddle locally and that helps me at lease break even. Personally I can't stand unanswered questions-I'd rather get a "sorry, no time to answer, try someone/somewhere else" than dead silence.  There's a lot of inadequate-poor-just plain wrong-info about claywork on the Internet /FB, as well as "taught" in some community studios, but I can trust the recommendations found here, especially for online resources like specific workshops/videos. For me, since I am not into production or making money, my best approach is to keep it simple and just have some fun while I explore & learn whatever it is I'm focusing on.

You're right--gas can certainly add up! Do you peddle your items in a brick and mortar shop? I used to have an Etsy shop for my mixed media a few years back.

I'm a little baffled by the lack of response to my questions. I mean, I asked a really easy question, i.e. are you familiar with a certain Mayco glaze, and a simple yes or no would have helped. Now I admit, I have a sour feeling. I totally get that I'm not going to have formal instruction from this place, but I feel uneasy when I ask simple questions and don't get a reply. I got a reply to one or two of my questions, but not all of them. Maybe the potter thought I was asking too many questions?

I ended up staying home instead of going there yesterday. That's how offputting it was. Not good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/10/2021 at 10:05 AM, Pres said:

Strangely enough, @ladyinblack1964, I was the provider for one such search by a couple of secretaries in my school district. These older ladies wanted to experience clay, and had often chided me to provide a class for them. I didn't have any place to have classes, as my tiny one car garage was packed, but they were relentless. One day I told them that if they could talk the superintendent, their boss, into letting me teach a saturday class in the winter in the HS that I would do it for free, and charge tuition to build a fund for studio improvements as the art department was always short of budget for new equipment. They prevailed, and I started teaching the class back in the late 80's, and it is still taught today(at least before covid). This class only lasted 6 weeks, on Saturdays in mid winter, usually from 9 to noon, tuition was $60 with materials extra based on fired weight of clay. I taught the class basics in the first two classes as 1 hr sessions with work after and open for last four classes. Always student based on what they wanted to explore. Maybe you could find some way to prevail upon your local art teachers to provide something like this. Over the years the class I taught bought 4 potters wheels, a new bailey extruder, kiln shelves, workbenches and throwing stools.  Good luck!

 

best,

Pres

Hi, Pres--That sounds very cool, what you did.

Alas, I've been trying on and off for the past two years to find someplace to study. Of course Covid got in the way, but it's mostly because of my work schedule. I have asked just about everybody I know connected with our tiny arts community, including pottery teachers, high schools, college programs, etc. It's as if nobody owns a private kiln or a private studio, nor do they know anybody who does, and no institution is willing to work with me re: studio time. I just don't get it.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/10/2021 at 9:52 AM, GEP said:

I once took a workshop with Sandi Pierantozzi. She is an amazing hand builder and teacher. She has an instructional video titled “What if?” that is available in the Ceramic Arts Network store (you can get there through links at the top of this page). I think it would be a worthy investment.

I also recommend Christy Knox as an amazing hand builder. Here’s her website, where she has a variety of videos that you can watch for free, and she makes new videos on a regular basis. https://www.christyknox.com/videos

I'm checking both of those out--thank you so much!

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/10/2021 at 8:50 AM, oldlady said:

some people will become insulted by my answer.  try not to be.  the word underglaze defines  a substance to go under  a   glaze.    if that substance has a color you want to see put it under a clear glaze.     that is it.    do not try to put something labelled underglaze   on   top   of a glaze.     that is just logical.       read the label on everything you use.  

lady, there is a commonly used phrase, "no question is a dumb question" that just irritates me.   some are not really dumb but are so basic that it is an indication of disrespect to ask.  and i am one of the biggest offenders.   my lack of understanding of math is crippling but people here are very good at translating it.  thank all of you.

 it is good to remember that even though today we are conditioned to know everything at all times about every subject and provide the correct answer immediately.   if not,  something is wrong with us.     learning comes in small doses but sometimes there are ways to learn that only involve thinking.

please read the first sentence again.

I'm certainly not insulted. Thank you for explaining about underglazes in a very easy-to-understand manner.

I hear you about the math. I don't understand it much myself.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/9/2021 at 9:48 PM, Bill Kielb said:

What strikes me is this is going to be a very personal decision perhaps even influenced by the upcoming winter weather. There may be no perfect answer and trying both out might be a way to narrow this down or even deciding one is better during the winter than the other. As far as learning, always super nice to get instruction but also with all the content on the web a nice opportunity to learn on your own. So the pandemic is bad, but web learning opportunities have never been better and ……. People do become masters of their trade, craft, art  by practice, application and study. Instruction is great but even with instruction practice is the only way to mastery.

Maybe schedule the most travel convenient for the winter months and in the summer you can join the other. Both experiences likely will be beneficial and you get to choose when.

As far as overwhelming knowledge, from my perspective, in clay there are many components to learn but learning step by step is really how humans progress. I enjoy learning and after over half a century it truly is what I enjoy most. A very wise person once told me when I was in my teens and was mad at myself for not accomplishing something fast enough muttering under my breath in disgust ……. He said “be careful how you treat yourself” that has stuck with me since and now when I look back I am pretty satisfied with all that I  have learned and,  excited about what I might get to learn tomorrow.

For me I just need to add effort to my latest interest and pursue opportunities as I find them available. Not all work out perfect but over time they all seem to add nicely to a growing knowledge base.

I wish you best of luck on your  journey!

Thank you very much, Bill.  Regarding winter: the community studio (even if it were open in winter) is out in the countryside. I am not sure I would want to drive there in the snow.
And thank you for reminding me to be kind to myself. I have a difficult time with that kind of thing.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

UPDATE:  I'm joining the handbuilding class midstream, starting tomorrow, and looking forward to it. From there, I'll see how ready I feel for any sort of open studio situation.

Thanks to all of you for your help and input!

Have a wonderful day!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.