Back when I was in high school, I did a 9 week segment in clay, pottery building, and sculpture. As part of this, we learned the basics of slab and coil construction as well as using a potter’s wheel. Earlier this year, when there was a Groupon deal for a “pottery experience” at Artworks Cafe in Portmarnock including tea, cake, 1 painted item and a basic lesson in making a pot on the wheel for two people (45 Euro) I couldn’t resist. This past weekend, I used my voucher and here are the pre-fired results.
When I first arrived, we were seated at a bunch of tables and given a choice of a plate with rim, a plate with no rim, or a mug to paint and fire. I chose a plate. From there, they gave us the option to draw a design or use a bunch of books (or various internet sites) to search for our own design for the pottery. Halloween is near, and after flipping through several books, I found the inspiration for my design:
Because everyone else was busy with the tracing paper, I figured I could free hand draw it on the plate (the picture itself was way too big) and I added some of my own touches. Long before the others were started painting, I picked up the brush and started on with my design. First, I mixed up the green, and then I painted the black hat.
Meanwhile, A chose his mug and began drawing a simple design on his as well. Shortly afterward, we were invited over to the landing and shown the basics of potting on the wheel. I was the only person who had done it before – and went first after the teacher.
I managed to quickly center my little slab of clay and began shaping. I think I forgot how much strength this can take – and just how messy it is, but the basics from my art class still remained.
Adding water, I continued to work the clay into a rounded bowl shape.
Eventually, I worked it up into a bowl, and added a lip. Sadly, though, when I turned to have a picture made – I nicked it – thus, you see the dent in the corner –
In the end, however, after a little more working, I decided to let the “nick” be a feature, added some stripes with one of the clay working tools and called it done. (It was easier than destroying the entire piece and starting over). It will take 3-4 days to dry, and then will be dipped into green before being fired and glazed.
Next up it was A’s turn. He’d never done this before, and it took him longer to get the clay centered. (I recall this took the longest time to learn for me as well). He did eventually get the piece centered and started out making the little bowl too.
He raised the sides and, as is common when trying to make a pot on the wheel, found that the pressure has to be exactly even – or the pot goes wonky and off center.
He kept working at it though, and while still off kilter, it did become a small bowl shaped piece, and one which as a first time attempt is quite good.
When we were both done, we went back to painting.
About an hour later, my “magic” plate was finished being painted
as was A’s mug:
We both had such a nice time, that we’re for sure going to have to go back and paint / play on the wheel more. At this point, we’re just waiting for the projects to be fired – This happens every couple weeks – and then for them to text and let us know that they’re ready. I’ll post the pictures when they are done. Otherwise, I would recommend taking the chance to do some pottery painting (I think even the kids will like it as it’s quite hands on) and/or get messy with the wheel. Also, if you’re in the area, I would recommend the Artworks Cafe, for sure.