Pottery Class – Something A Little Different
What on earth made me think about taking a Pottery Class? Here’s what happened…
You would have thought Mr Perfect would have learnt not to leave me to my own devices, and certainly not allow me to go to our good friends house alone one Friday evening. You see if he had bothered to come with me I would never have hatched a plot with our friends to organise a pottery class!
I have no idea how the subject of a pottery class came up, but once it did it was very obvious that myself and the Ivers were really up for it, the only spanner in the works could be Mr Perfect, so we decided to make it a surprise for him! Then set about finding someone local who taught pottery, so we could book a taster class.
Of course the idea of keeping the class a secret from Mr Perfect was too good an opportunity to miss. In fairness, I really don’t think he would have come along if he’d known what we had in store. We simply told him he needed to keep the date free as we were taking him for a surprise outing (which made it even more fun for the rest of us).
The day of our exciting new venture arrived, we’d arranged to pick the Ivers up, arriving a little early to give us time to wind Mr Perfect up even more! Giving him 3 guesses as to what we might be doing and £20 if he managed to guess, easy bet, there was NO WAY he was going to guess. In fact he was pretty convinced we were going to some type of spiritual or dancing class, neither of which he was particularly keen on. Needless to say he managed to squeeze in a quick bottle of beer before we left!
On arrival at the venue, which on first appearances was someone’s house, we knocked and our teacher appeared at the door and proceeded to lead us through her garage, which was full of pottery items and a small kiln – we think it was at about this point Mr Perfect first realised what he might be doing, although he did think it was going to be in the garage!! To be honest so did I!
Thank the lord it wasn’t, we were lead down the garden path, Mr Perfect in more ways than one, and into a rather large “shed” at the bottom of the garden – oh I do love an adventure.
I was mightily impressed with said “shed”, it was completely kitted out with two work tables, two potters wheels and a vast array of potters tools, some of which I was delighted to recognise from my school days.
By now Mr Perfect was fully aware of what we had in store for him, apparently all he could think about was how he could be watching England play rugby on the telly, well until we got going that is.
The pottery class started off with our teacher spending a good 20 minutes or so talking through what we would be doing in our 2 hour session and showing us the types of things we could make. We would do one moulded piece and one potters wheel piece. I think we were all most excited about getting on the potters wheel! Of course we all had visions of that scene from Ghost but Demi Moore I’m not, although I think Mr Perfect would like to think of himself as Patrick Swayze!!!
Talk done, we were on to the good stuff, after choosing some very nifty aprons, we set about choosing our moulds. I decided I wanted a large bowl to use for pasta and salad and Mr Perfect chose a smaller version (we we do like things to match). Mrs I chose a bowl also and Mr I, who does like to stand out from the crowd and challenge himself, decided on a cylindrical vase (there was no way I was doing that, you had to glue things together with water and cut the clay at angles – far too complicated).
I’d just got going on setting up my space for my moulding when the teacher asked one of us to go and join her at the potters wheel. Not one to be shy I was first up and I was overly excited and had visions of being back at school making a right mess!
I positioned myself on the seat and awaited instruction. First off was getting used to the foot pedal, which controls the speed of the wheel. Within a minute I was being “told off”, I really was back at school! Let’s just say I’m a little heavy footed, not great for spinning the wheel. I eventually got the knack and then it was time to get the clay on the wheel, which you do by throwing it on to the centre, I managed to get it pretty central! Then it was time to begin “throwing”, which simply means the entire activity of shaping the clay on the potter’s wheel.
Now, I thought this was going to be easy, I mean how hard can it be, I’ve seen them do it on the telly and don’t remember it being that difficult at school… how wrong I was! The teacher told me to wet my hands and then got hold of my hands to show me how I needed to hold them to do the first work on the clay. I was also told I wasn’t sitting correctly and my arms weren’t in the right position, oh and I needed to relax (mmm doing well then).
I would love to say I made my bowl all by myself but that would be a little far from the truth, I think the teacher was guiding my hands for about 85% of my time on the wheel and getting a little agitated that I couldn’t carry out her instructions. At least it gave the others some amusement. However, after about 10 minutes, I did end up with a little bowl, which wasn’t too shabby and I was allowed to lift it off all by myself, what a clever girl I am! Mines the one on the right as you look at the picture, Mrs Ivers’ is on the left, which may look a little wonky but credit where credit is due, she did most of it herself!
Right, on to my moulded masterpiece, it had to be easier than the potters wheel, after all you simply roll out your clay, put it the mould, trim it, turn it up on to a board, turn it over and hey presto you have a beautiful bowl.
Unfortunately not the case, well not if you are me anyway. I put my clay between the two guiding sticks and got the biggest rolling pin I could find, I was making a BIG bowl, then commenced rolling. You have to turn the clay over to prevent splits and bubbles, even that is easier said than done, my clay kept sticking to the cloth you roll it out on. Eventually I got it as even and flat as I could and large enough to fit the mould. Then you have to put the clay in the mould – woo hoo in first time without breaking!
By this time I had forgotten the instructions given at the beginning of the pottery class, as to how you get rid of any folds, of which I had a few, so had to wait a while as one of the others was being taught on the potters wheel – without getting told off. When teacher was free, she came and showed me how to work the creases and I continued. The problem then was the dents I was making in the rest of the clay while working on the creases, but Mr Perfect’s bowl was perfectly smooth, so I assumed there was a knack to getting the dents out.
Once all the creases were dealt with, I used the cheese wire (it’s pretty much the same as one of those) and cut the excess off, it took a couple of goes but I got there. Then Mr Perfect came back so I asked him how he got his bowl so smooth, apparently it just turned out like that, typical! So I grabbed a kidney pallete and tried to use that to smooth it out, it worked a bit but I think I was probably being over cautious. I decided the thumb prints were a nice addition.
Time was running out, our pottery class was drawing to a close, I had to turn my bowl out, which I was dreading. You have to pick the mould up, hold it in front of you on its side and bang the bottom of the mould to loosen the clay, turning the mould as you go. Teacher said I wasn’t banging hard enough! It eventually came out, then you have the conundrum of turning it back over – it’s still soft! A quick lift and flip and I had it up the right way, still in one piece – RESULT!
Then I noticed the cracks, where I hadn’t worked my creases properly – a bit of water and some rubbing and they’d soon gone, but the sides of the bowl had also gotten much thinner! Teacher came to have a look and told me I had to smooth the edges of the top of the bowl (or they’d be sharp when it came out of the kiln), she showed me how to do it, looked easy enough – ha ha yeah right. By the time I’d gone all the way round the top, my sides were even thinner. At about this time I gave up the “ghost” so to speak! It was time to step away from the bowl!
This gave me time to review what my other pottery class mates had done… Mr Perfects perfect bowl had somehow turned into a plate?? He’d left it upside down in the mould on the board when he went for his turn on the potters wheel, it never recovered! Mrs Ivers had decided to go all creative on us and what had been a bowl had turned into a work of art (well at least to some people), with the edges torn and shaped and some strange hook attached. The funniest thing about this was that teacher thought it had split, not that Mrs I had chosen to make it like that!? And seriously if my edges were going to be sharp, hers were going to be weapons of death! Lastly was Mr I, who had worked methodically on his cylindrical vase and of course it was near on perfect! That was until he remembered he hadn’t glued the bottom to the sides!! Who knows what will happen to it in the kiln!
So that was it, our first pottery class. You leave your clay masterpieces with teacher for her to fire and glaze and she will give us a call when they’re done. None of us are convinced they will come out of the kiln alive! I will share pictures if they do, good or bad!
It was such good fun doing something completely out of the norm and out of our comfort zones. Interesting, fun and actually extremely relaxing. Mr Perfect was adamant it would be brilliant for stress relief and I would be inclined to agree, especially if you can take yourself off on your own and just play around with it and see what happens.
I’m pretty proud of myself for trying something new at the age of 47, it does us good to try new experiences, challenge ourselves and break the daily routine. If there is something you have always wanted to try I highly recommend you do it, it’s liberating and confidence boosting.
What did I learn… 1. I’m not very good at taking instructions. 2. I like to be able to do things the first time I try and can get frustrated if I can’t. 3. I would quite like a shed at the end of my garden with a potters wheel in it – where I could play with clay to my hearts content and nobody could see how bad I am!
We are now looking into other strange and wonderful things we can do and have decided we aren’t going to tell either of the men about them, so they will have a few more surprises coming their way this year! I will share any good ones and if you have any ideas for us please comment below! xx
If you’re interested in taking a pottery class or nurturing your crafty side, take a look at this link which includes courses around the UK Craft Courses or take some recommendations from Kirstie Allsop Pottery Courses UK.