Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ceramics I College Class Redux

I signed up for the community college class having not talked to anyone about their own experience.

The thing I learned at class one was there are ceramics labs twice a week. The thing I learned in weeks one and two was that I could not keep up with the cycle of assignments meshing with the wet clay going to leather hard, to the bisque kiln and glaze kiln firings if I only attended class. So basically to keep up I had to attend labs which meant two more trips to the college bringing my in classroom time to 10 hours a week spread over 4 visits.

Then I learned that there was a (nationwide) charity thing called Empty Bowls and there was a clay club which are somewhat intertwined. Empty Bowls met on Fridays for four hours, it was a come if you can thing. So essentially I had the chance to be in the lab for a total of 14 hours a week spread over 5 visits. For. Empty Bowls we use donated clay to throw bowls on the wheel, or hand formed, so we get extra practice. We then decorate them with under glazes and glazes. These are donated to a soup cellar for a fundraiser where ticket buyers purchase a handmade bowl for $25. They fill it with soup and eat it together at the fundraiser then take the bowl home with them. After our work with Empty Bowls is done we were allowed to use the lab for our own pursuits.

I learned that the Clay Club accepts donations of pieces to sell on campus and the proceeds purchase under glazes and glazes as well as some equipment, since the college's budget does not allow for all that we want to have to use. I volunteered to help sell items as well as purchasing some myself.

A major thing I learned was the rotation and cycle for making items and how it works in our climate here and with the college's schedule. The clay only stays wet a certain amount of time, for you to manipulate it. We do things with spritzing with water and wrapping in plastic so we can work on our piece a second time if our class time runs out. This does not always work and sometimes our pieces are ruined. After we are done with the the wet clay we set it on our own shelf to dry to leather hard. Here that takes a few days, so working time in class I s not always when the piece is ready. Then we move it to the green ware shelf indicating it is ready to be bisque fired in the bisque kiln. After that happens (which may take a week or more) we fetch it off the bisque cart and then work on it more to paint or glaze it and set it to the glaze firing shelf where it may take one or two weeks. When it is out of the kiln we fetch it and it is ready to be graded and critiqued. So we have to time it just right in order to get it all done by critique day. Also if we want a best chance at success we should make three projects, not one, according to the head of the ceramics.

My class has finished. My accomplishments are:

I never dropped a piece.

None of my pieces broke in the kiln. I got one small crack only.

Only two pieces had mishaps with firing of the glazes but I had enough come out correctly to get an A grade.

I relearned how to make a pinch pot.

I learned how to make a pinch pot rattle and a pinch pot hollow bird statue.

I learned how to make exposed coil forms and coil projects where the coil was not exposed.

I learned how to make a slab box, platters and bowls.

I learned how to throw pieces on the wheel, regular and also off the hump, making and trimming. I learned how to throw a foot onto a slab made piece.

I made thrown cylinders, bowls, sake cups, tea cups and coffee mugs.

I taught myself sgraffito.

I learned how to use under glazes, glazes, and wash water glazing. I learned how to pour on glaze,dip in, double and triple dip, to paint on with a brush, and splattering.

I learned what raku firing is and made a selection of raku pieces.

I learned how to unload the bisque kiln and to unload the Cone 10 kiln.

I learned how to use the sprayer for glazing, the sander and the grinder.

To learn I was taught by my professor, was taught by the head of ceramics in open lab and during Empty Bowls. I learned by YouTube videos in class and at home, by reading websites and Ceramics Daily online (free), and by reading the textbook. I learned by talking to Ceramincs I & II students in my classes and in lab and at Empty Bowls. Some of these students have been making ceramics for decades, they keep coming back to access low cost ceramics making time. Being an extrovert and being chatty helps me learn a lot. Being open to learning from anyone also helps me grow.

I think Igot a lot out of this class. The financial investment was $250 in tuition, $60 in clays, $150 in other (mostly optional) equipment, and $30 in a fundraiser high quality ceramics apron.

I signed up for Ceramics II for the next semester. I can't wait.

No comments: