Ceramics Update!

9:08 AM

A few weeks ago, I shared a 100 Day Project update. Today I thought I'd talk about my other current creative project -- ceramics! In this post, I mentioned that I was going to take a ceramics class this quarter. Now, the quarter is just about over and I have had so so so much fun with ceramics! It has been such an exciting new experience! I loved it so much that I'm planning to continue with ceramics, either over the summer or during fall quarter. I haven't decided yet. What I have decided is that I haven't had enough of it! I feel like I have officially gotten the hang of it now -- the wedging, the wheel-throwing, the carving, the glazing. I actually can't decide which step of the process is my favorite. I love it all! It is such a meditative, relaxing, rewarding hobby.

Shown in these pictures are some of the bowls I have made. I was in the experimental, figuring-it-all-out stage when I made these, so they aren't perfect, but its still so exciting to have a few final products! 

This little guy was my very first finished piece. It was such a fun moment when I picked it up from the studio and realized that I actually made a usable, shiny new bowl out of a wet, sloppy ball of clay. I'm definitely going to keep it forever.

I thought I would share a little about the process as well as a few tips I learned along the way. The first step, as you can see in these pictures, is wheel-throwing. This step definitely had the steepest learning curve. If you're starting out with ceramics, I recommend that you practice as much as you can as soon as you can. Once you climb that learning curve, it quickly becomes a lot easier. The first day of class, I made nothing. Working the wheel was so hard! I couldn't imagine being able to make anything that resembled a bowl. But, over the next week, I practiced every spare minute I could and quickly got the hang of it! You just have to pass over that first hump.

Another tip that really helped me was to go in with no expectations. I wasn't confident enough with the wheel yet to say "I want to make a vase!" and actually make a vase. Instead, I just went with whatever the clay wanted to be, which as you may guess, turned out to be a bowl 99% of the time. But I was fine with that! Now that I have more experience, I can go into it with more of a plan, but it was really nice when I was first starting out to go into it without any pressure or expectations.

Here's a little snapshot of the studio!

Glazing was also hard at first, though in a different way than wheel-throwing. The main thing I learned was that glazes do not act like paints! I made the mistake of assuming that they were and quickly realized that that was not the case! There is a lot of chemistry involved with glazes. When they go into the kiln (at over 2000°F!!!) some sort of sorcery happens and the pieces come out looking completely different. The different glazes react together to form new, unexpected colors. I found that most people who do ceramics keep a notebook where they record all of the glaze combinations that they try so that they can keep track of what works and what doesn't. I'm definitely planning to use that tip in the future.

See the difference? The glaze is all pale and powdery before its fired. That white strip at the top is going to become a super bright, dark, glassy blue.


Here are the kilns used for the first firings. I wasn't able to get a good picture of the glaze kiln, but it is ginormous!

If you ever get the chance to try your hand at ceramics, I would definitely recommend it. I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity. It has been such great fun! I can't wait to get back at it.

Have a wonderful Sunday and rest of the week!

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