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Marcia Selsor

Can You Describe An Ah Ha Moment You Had?

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I was watching those Simon Leach pottery videos. When trimming, he always wets the wheel head, taps the inverted bowl and trims away. no wadding. I tried it. it works. Now this is how I trim.

TJR.

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I use different clays, different colors.  I would slab some dark clay than when I slab white clay, the previous dark clay would get on the white. After doing this many times, I had a moment of clarity .... unscrew the slab canvas and flip it according to the clay color.  Now one side is used for white, the other for dark.

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I took a ceramics class in junior high school more than 50 years ago and then in the early 70's my wife and I attended evening adult education ceramics classes in a local high school. Two years ago I began ceramics classes at our local community college and my a-ha moment was after a few minutes of touching, feeling, squeezing clay I knew that I loved this. I have always loved this and why haven't I been doing this for the last 40 years?

 

- Paul R.

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While hand building in the 80's, I discovered the joys of slapping clay on one's lubricated face and making masks...for some reason that sealed my fate as knowing without a doubt that I must (must) work in clay. But, after I completed my BFA I went into 30 years of a different career and hadn't touched clay since...until a few months ago! Ah ha, the light bulb flashed....again.   :wub:

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I was a sculpture major in art school working with hard materials. I went to my first ceramics class as a total clay novice. Watching my teacher's first throwing demo was magical, mesmerizing, hypnotic. I turned to my friend next to me and said "I'm going to be a potter."  I had not yet touched the clay. When the demo was finished he told us to get out some clay. As soon as I felt the clay, the deal was sealed. That was my ah ha moment.

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I was in 7th grade and my art teacher gave us each a ball of clay, I had never touched clay before.  I sat around and watched other kids pound out clunky thick ash trays.  I went up and asked her if we could really make what we wanted and she said yes.  So I made a small pendant for a necklace of an Egyptian Mau,  I was so impressed that you could make something so delicate to a clunky ash tray with the same ball of clay.  I didn't get to work with clay again until high school but it just kind of snow balled from there.    Denice

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In 1983 I was driving home from teaching. I lived in Huntley, Montana a small farming community about 15 miles from the University in Billings. It was a beautiful spring day and Black Angus were spread around a brilliant green pasture. Ah ha..RAKU! I began making slabs with animals on them. I started with cows, went to horses and now birds. 

 

Marcia

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I took an extra year of high school to take some extra science courses to improve my chances of getting into the physiotherapy school I was looking at. To cut the tedium of physics in the first quarter, I signed up for art as an elective. And I found out I was kinda good at art. Not crazy good, but kinda good. I had a long series of fortuitous events that were minor epiphanies themselves, where I discovered clay, the potters wheel, raku firing and rudimentary glaze mixing. All pretty cool, and I think everyone here has had a similar feeling up to this point.

The big one for me was going to the Open House at ACAD, and touring the ceramics department. Aaand....it felt like Home.

 

I went home that evening, and the first words out of my mouth were "Mom? I'm going to art school."

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Marcia,

I guess the Ah Ha moment I had was when I was learning how to throw.  We were on the quarter system, and

had to throw 40 cylinders to be cut in half, 10 cups with handles, 10 bowls, a 3 piece sectional piece(handles

and lids did not count), one large vessel, and one annotated bibliograpy of a pottery book from the

library,  At the time, my thrown cylinders did not look like the other class members.  Something was

missing even though we were all hunched over and the wheel was spinning, but mine were different. 

Somewhere between 15 and 30 cylinders I felt the clay move for the first time.  If I had to guess,

I had been mashing the clay  between my hands forcing it up, but not pulling. 

So when it happened, the light bulb went off and despair set in at the same time.  I remember thinking,

"What did you just do and can you do it again?"  Leaving the ceramic dept. at the first sign of progress is

never an option.

See ya,

Alabama

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At the local art museum, there was an evening wheel throwing class and that is where I learned.  I struggled to center and pull up a wall etc as expected, the second day we were given the 10 minute warning to be done and start cleaning up. I was in such a panic that the wheel time was over that I just immediately centered the clay and made a bowl.  The teacher looked at me and said "it seems to work for you when you stop thinking about it and just do it".  I had to learn to look away when centering in the beginning and go by feel. 

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I was a sculpture major in art school working with hard materials. I went to my first ceramics class as a total clay novice. Watching my teacher's first throwing demo was magical, mesmerizing, hypnotic. I turned to my friend next to me and said "I'm going to be a potter."  I had not yet touched the clay. When the demo was finished he told us to get out some clay. As soon as I felt the clay, the deal was sealed. That was my ah ha moment.

This^

I went from knowing nothing to totally committed in the course of the introduction demo - Santa Ana College 1973 George Geyer on a Lockerbie (he kicked with both legs simultaneously to avoid over-developing just one)

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My Aha moments have been a matter of stumbling around in the dark, or tripping over something that I should have noticed. For years it was a matter of trial and error mentally to figure something out. Lots of reading, loads of experimenting, and gradual steps with no real epiphany. I stumbled around so often trying to do something like throwing off the hump, that in the end I found research was my best guiding light. Often the research was here, sometimes in the current and back issues of ceramic magazines, library trips that turned out to be unsuccessful as I had more books than they in ceramics, and once it started up utube. I guess I am cautious about excepting any one direction as the way to go, always looking for another road or branch.

 

Best,

Pres

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First aha was when I learned we were moving to Georgia .. I just knew I had to try pottery.

Second was watching Lana Wilson throw, stretch, pound, and shape clay ... I realized I was not taking enough chances.

Three was a workshop with Jane Peiser ... Colored clay!

Four was attending my first NCECA and being with thousands of other potters ... totally immersed in pottery.

Five was Chris Staley's workshop comment to "Notice what you notice. Pay attention."

Six was the day I stopped making 'stuff' and got serious.

Seven .... Eight ... Nine ... Ten .... Conversations with experienced potters/ collectors I admire who widened my mind.

Eleven and up .... Still in the wings waiting ....

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