Virginia Jeffrey with February’s Mudslinger Blog PostPosted by Julie Myers on 2/1/2021 12:00:00 PM
Mudslingers 2020 - Marrin CristPosted by Julie Myers on 1/5/2021 2:00:00 PM
Tips for Improving Your Pottery
By: Marrin Crist
When I first started throwing in class, I had a really tough time. I didn’t really understand how much pressure to apply and how to form the clay into a workable cylinder. As I practiced it more, I learned some techniques that helped me. Through some trial and error, I also figured out what works best for trimming and glazing as well. I’m sharing what worked best for me with throwing, trimming and glazing below.
- Don’t start with too little clay- If you’re a beginner like me, you are going to lose a lot of clay in the process of throwing on the wheel. Start out with more than you think you need (not too much though, since that will be hard to form) so that you have more wiggle room for mistakes.
- Take your time- The worst thing you can do is try to rush out a piece with 5 minutes left in class, because that leaves you 5 minutes to throw and 10 minutes to clean up (I’ve tried it before; it doesn’t work out). When you rush a piece, your finished product will reflect that. It will be messy, and most likely not uniform, which could cause problems when it is fired in the kiln.
- Don’t be afraid to use muscle- When I first started throwing, I was too scared to apply a lot of pressure because I was afraid I would mess up my cylinder, but I wasn’t really getting anywhere. To center your clay, you have to use a lot of pressure, just make sure you are matching the speed at which you apply pressure with the speed of the wheel.
- Most importantly: Don’t give up- This sounds cliche, but it’s true. It’s easy to get frustrated with the difficulty of throwing pottery, but if you don’t keep trying, you won’t get better. When you get upset, just take a break to breathe and come back to it later.
- Set your wheel speed to low- This allows you to take your time, work calmly, and makes trimming a lot easier.
- Less is more- The less trimming you do on a piece, the better. If you end up trimming really far down, you can break through the base of your piece. If you’re a perfectionist, this could be hard, but stopping when your trimming is functional and neat is the best way to go.
- Create from your mistakes- If you mess up, it’s not the end of the world, because you can convert your piece into something else. For example: if you break through the bottom of your pot, carve out a hole where it broke, carve little notches in the base, and you can convert it into a plant pot.
My final project mug
- Shake your glaze well- Make sure you always shake the bottle of glaze before using it in order to get rid of clumps or air bubbles. If you pour clumpy glaze into your piece, it will not adhere to the clay in the firing process and expose the bisqueware in your piece, making it not food-safe.
- Add some drip- Some of my best pieces were ones that used the drip effect on. All you have to do is dip the top of your piece in a different colored glaze, then allow it to drip down the sides. This makes it look super cool.
- Differentiate between fires- Always remember which type of glaze you put on each piece and separate them into low and high fire categories. If a piece with Cone 05/06 glaze goes into a high fire kiln, it could be ruined. If a piece with Cone 5/6 glaze goes into a low fire kiln, the color will not turn out the way you want it to.
Hopefully some of those tips are helpful. They definitely helped me a lot when working on my pieces. Remember to always keep a positive attitude when working with clay, because it is not easy and it’s common for people to give up. But with the right attitude and lots of patience, you can create beautiful things.
Mudslingers Blog #1Posted by Pottery & Sculpture Class on 2/18/2019
Hot Cocoa, by Cheyenne Mathis
Its mid-October in Pennsylvania. The leaves are changing from green to red, the birds are heading south, the temperature went from 90 to 55 like it saw a state trooper, and people are bringing out their warmest sweatshirts. I took pottery to relax, and to create a piece that is my own. Since the weather is getting cold, I decided to make a nice mug to hold some hot cocoa on the coldest days.
Video by GASD Pottery & Sculpture Art Students: Savannah Soliday, Lucas Witherow and Molly Stover.
First, I knead the clay; swinging my body forward and back, pressing down and rolling the clay. Then I took my clay, and headed to the throwing wheel and learned how to center. At first centering was difficult. However, after a few errors, I finally centered the clay. I got excited because then I could finally start to create my mug. I pressed my fingers in the center to create an opening. Then slowly stretched it out because I want it to hold a lot of hot cocoa. I then smoothed the top, and then wrapped it up for the next day to finish it. The next day rolled around. I removed my cup from the bag, and started to trim the bottom. Next, I had to create a handle that would fit with my cup. I took a piece of clay; rolling it into a carrot shape, then pinched the sides to create a triangle shape. Folding the handle to fit the cup from the bottom to the top, and smoothing it to give it a seamless appearance. Right before my eyes was my finished mug. Off to the kiln it went. Then a nice layer of glaze to give it some color, and to hold my hot cocoa.