Getting into Pottery

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to take some pottery classes at Mud Matters, which is luckily just a few blocks from my apartment. Pottery on the wheel falls into the general hobby category of “30% artistic, 70% technical skill”, and so it’s a natural fit for me, along with photography, woodworking, and cooking. I’ve mostly made bowls: vases require pulling the clay higher and using more material than you might expect (maybe about 4 lbs of clay to make a 12” tall vase). Also, bowls are extremely useful for cooking and serving food, you can gets lots of different shapes and sizes. Plus, food automatically looks better if it’s photographed in a handmade bowl.

I’ve found that the learning curve is fairly shallow - you can get a feel for how thin you can make the clay pretty quickly, and learn the right level of moisture the clay should be at (to little moisture and the friction creates too much torsional force, too much moisture and the clay loses strength quite quickly). In the first session I was able to make a couple of semi-ok bowls. In the second session I was able to make some decent small bowls. By the fourth session I was pretty happy with my bowls up to about 6” diameter x 3” height. Now that I’m a couple months in, learning has definitely slowed some, but I continue to improve - I’ve made bowls up to about 12” in diameter x 6” height, which sounds like only 2x the size of the bowls I was making in the first month, but it’s actually 8x as large. I’m also using only about 4-5x as much clay, which means I’m throwing much thinner

A few things that I found challenging at first:

Here are some potters I watched to learn or follow for inspiration.

In a future post coming soon™, I’ll post some actual photos of my work. Before then, I need to come up with a good lighting and background setup.

Tags: #art