Long ago, before summer began, and the UK was still awaiting warmth, I took a short pottery course. It was four weeks long and each week we learnt something different. Because of an unfortunately timed exam, I had to miss one session but I still managed to attend the others and learn a bit about the art of clay-making.
Week 1: The Slab Method
The slab method is essentially creating slabs of clay in different shapes and sticking them together. While it sounds simple, there are a lot of factors to take into account. For instance, making sure there are no bubbles of air in the clay which might cause it to explode upon being placed in the kiln. However it was the easiest of the methods to learn, and we made use of the slabs to experiment with adding texture to the pieces and creating interesting designs.
I used a pre-made template to create a small photo-frame. It did break in the heating process as the connecting bit of clay was not strong enough, but all in all I think it turned out reasonably well. I still need to work out which photo to put in it though.
Week 2: Pinching
The pinching method was probably my favourite out of all those I tried as, while it was quite difficult, it allowed for the creation of more ambitious projects. The technique involves making two bowls by pinching at a bowl of clay then sticking the bowls together to create a hollow sphere. From there you squeeze at different parts of the sphere, bringing bits out, narrowing areas and reshaping until you get structure of whatever it is you so happen to be making.
My love for dragons made them an obvious subject matter for this week. It took the longest to make, but of the three I managed to create, this was the one I am the most proud of. The design is based off of Kilgharrah from the t.v. series Merlin, but with my own spin as well. The scales, wings and feet were added using the slab method but the rest of it is all down to pinching.
Week 3: Coiling
Unfortunately I was not able to go to this session because I had an exam I needed to focus all my attention on. It does look a lot of fun though so I hope I will be able to get the chance to have a go at it in the future.
Week 4: Practice
This week we were given the choice of what we wanted to do, and it was this week which everything went wrong for me. I tried about four different things, which included a go at the coiling that I had missed and another pinching project, but in the end I settled for a slab method book-end. The only one that did not go belly up.
The book-end is divided in two, one side being dedicated to music and the other books. This is because I had the idea, while making it, to give it to my dad for father’s day. My dad plays cello and is an avid reader. By designing the book-end as I did, I was able to include both his interests. As it turned out, we did not get our creations back from the kiln until long after father’s day had passed. So I’ll just save it for another occasion.