Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Time Warps and Clay Confessions

Wow - I hadn't realized that it had been so long since I posted on the blog and here we are one week from the 'ber' months.  My apologies!  I'm going to blame it on the last long, lazy days of summer as that sounds so much better than just plain lazy.  The lazy days of summer means wonderful afternoons on sandy beaches, margaritas by the poolside, and drippy two-scoop ice cream cones - none of which I had.  I don't suppose that sitting in the gazebo and punching the remote control on the mosquito mister every 15 minutes even gives me brownie points, does it?  I did eat a slice of watermelon and pounce on fresh local peaches as soon as they appeared, so summer didn't entirely pass me by, but I certainly have some catching up to do next year.

I think this summer passed by faster than when I was in college and actually spent my summers on sandy beaches and sipping margaritas by the poolside.  I think that some odd sort of time warp occurred and I just wasn't beamed up in time to avoid it.  I can prove it:  just a few months ago, my youngest grandkids were mere babies, and yesterday I got these shocking pictures purporting that they are already five years old and starting kindergarten.  Gotta be a time warp.

This is Addison on her first day of kindergarten.  She was so excited to start going to school that she didn't want to go to sleep the night before for fear she'd miss it.  Let's remind her of that when she's a teenager.

This is Braden, also excited to start kindergarten.  He liked coming home on the bus with his older brother.  Also good for a reminder when he's a teenager.

And now since I've put it off long enough, I'll make my pottery confession. In eight weeks of classes, I never once touched the pottery wheel.  It seems my teacher is a classic potter (I'm sure there's a more distinguished term for it, like Grand Master Ceramic Artiste) but the bottom line is that he thinks that students should demonstrate complete mastery of multiple types of clay before they get to touch the wheel. In fact, he usually makes students wait six months before they get to the wheel.  

I made pots by five different hand-construction methods, then moved up to boxes and cubes (that's James, my teacher, showing me how to make a box), then vases.  I still couldn't talk him into letting me use the wheel. Then I started figuring out how to construct larger, more usable items by the same methods:  teapots, casserole dishes, trays.  I mean, how many ceramic pencil holders does a gal need?

So I ended up with ten ugly pots and boxes and vases which made it all the way through the firing/glazing/final firing process, plus eight potentially awesome larger items which are still somewhere in that process. 

Of the ugly items, only these two survived: a box (to remind me that lost wax and runny glazes don't mix), and a basketweave-patterned vase to remind me how nasty a mustard-colored glaze can look.  The rest became an offering to the trashcan fairies.

I also learned the hard way what one of the other potters told me:  you can't get attached to something until it comes out of the final kiln.  Mathematically expressed, the potential for pottery disaster equals your degree of anticipation times forty gazillion bajillion.  I made a tray in a lovely curved shape, and on the surface I used real maple leaves to create an abstract design. The Grand Master Potter teacher himself gave me a nod of approval.  Even the experienced potters were borrowing maple leaves from me to copy the effect.  Yes, this was one epic tray. Museums all over the U.S. may have been jockeying for the opportunity to add it to their collections.  OK, I wouldn't bet cash on that, but it's possible. Say, in an alternate universe.

On Sunday, I went in to check to see if it had been fired.  What joy!  It was on the bisque-fired shelves.  So I picked up one end of it - and it broke in my hands. Noooo, it had not been fired after all and was still fragile.  And now in four pieces. Quietly I made another sad offering to the trashcan fairies.  But at least I got my teacher to agree to start me on the pottery wheel when classes start up again in two weeks.  Mud-slinging, here I come!

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