One of my biggest goals for the new year was to get out and interact with people more often. As a work-from-home creative (who’s often shackled to her computer writing or her camera documenting projects around the house) I have to be really intentional about getting out into the world. I was really, really bad about it in 2017 because I was juggling a ton of renovation projects and contractors, and it definitely had a negative effect on my psyche. So, 2018 was my year to change that—and change it, I did!
I started by signing up for my first-ever wheel-throwing pottery class. The 6-week course is hosted by a local studio, Make Waynesboro, and taught by pro potter, Sherri Raffaele. I actually wrapped up the class mid-February, but decided to sign up for another one since it was such a fun experience. I went to my first lesson of the second round of classes this past Monday, and already feel like I’ve managed to take so much away from my weekly practices and Sherri’s demos.
Those photos above are all from the first class I signed up for earlier in the year, and you’ll see all seven of the finished pieces I made pictured below. Do I think I nailed it? No way. There are definitely some duds (like those Grinch-green cups you’ll see that were supposed to come out a totally different shade of gray), but all in all, I managed to make a few pieces that I’m proud of.
I took a hand-building course in college, but that was my only real experience with clay. I’m so thankful that I had that semester’s-worth of interaction with the material, though, because I think it really helped me get over my insecurities. Even still, that first wheel-throwing class back in January was eye-opening.
I came home and don’t mind admitting that there were a few tears as I told John about how badly I did. I think I had to start over at least three times while working at the wheel on Day One, and I’m still not even close to proficient—but I felt much more relaxed sitting at the wheel this past Monday. The cool thing is that Sherri actually encourages messing up because it teaches us to take things just a little too far in order to become more familiar with the clay’s limits.
Who knows how far this will end up going or how long I’ll end up taking classes, but I can’t help feeling like I may have found “my place” in this new town of ours. We’ve been here for two and a half years now, but I don’t think I really felt like a true resident until now.
Having a certain place to go every Monday morning—and especially walking into a creative studio—is really something special. I’ve always been an introvert, but I come alive in an art studio. It’s where I feel most like myself and the folks who feel the same way almost seem like kindred spirits. It’s like being a 22-year-old carefree college art student all over again.
Anyway, I know I just flew off on a tangent, but I wanted to explain how it actually feels to get out there and learn a new skill. I didn’t want to just share the tangible results of the class (the glazed and fired cups you see above and below). If you’ve been feeling stuck in a rut or like you could use a dose of creativity, sign up for a local art class! I couldn’t possibly recommend it more as a way to jump-start some new ideas and a fresh perspective.
As for the pieces you see here today, I’d love to know what you think! Any professional ceramicists out there? What are your favorite techniques and glazes? I’m still trying my best to master the cylinder shape, but I managed to eek out one tiny plate-like dish, too, which you’ll see right there below. I’m excited to set it up next to the kitchen sink to hold our dish brush, and the rest of the cups you see in today’s post are already in heavy rotation around our house holding things like jewelry, cotton balls, and other odds and ends.
My favorite piece of the batch is probably the etched brown cup. I spent one class using a needle tool to carve out a design inspired by this Wild Radish art print from Minted, and it actually came out better than I expected it would. I thought the lines would get totally lost in the glaze, but with Sherri’s help, I managed to punctuate the shape with a couple layers of brown glaze (I think it’s called Temmoku) before firing, and it did the trick to make those leafy lines pop.
My sights are now firmly set on being able to make something other than a straight cylinder. I’m hoping to be able to make at least one bowl, and I also want to manipulate the cylinder shapes into decorative wall bells like these. Can I do it? The jury’s still out, but if you liked seeing this first collection, I’m happy to document the good, the bad, and the inevitably ugly things I make in my second class, too! Now, go see what type of creative class you can sign up for in your own town or city—I’m willing to bet you won’t regret it.