10.04.2011

playing with clay

detail
texture
texture
texture
texture

I've been taking ceramics classes at night for over a month now in a gorgeous studio in a nearby town.  Both wheel throwing and hand building are on the agenda.  Without a doubt I suck.  I'm just terrible.  In fact I didn't keep anything I threw for the entire first month.  My instructor has been laughing at me constantly, and last night I finally realized it was because of my perfectionism.  (Well, my belligerence towards the clay always elicits a chuckle too, especially when I'm slapping it loudly against the table to work out my aggression.)  When I finally decided to just let go of perfection and enjoy the whole darn process, I finally made some progress.  In one night I threw two bowls and two cups, and I'm keeping all of them.  I didn't say they were good.  They're not.

Hand building, on the other hand, is not as much of an exercise in patience and letting go.  It's just plain fun.  With hand building you can really explore the primitive handmade look.  Since I tend to favor simple shapes, I've been decorating my pieces with lots of random markings and texture.  I like to pretend the pieces I'm making are ancient artifacts that came out of the ground, mysterious and strange.

I've been collecting these inspirations up, and now it's time to share them with you:

Top photo: taken by me during a Wiksten photo shoot at a friend of a friend's apartment.
Second row: lamp by Victoria Morris on the left, photo from Clam Lab tumblr on the right (link sent to me by Lena).
Third row: pieces by Stan Bitters from here, here, and here (seen on Intelligent Clashing).
Fourth row:  from Fifty One and a Half by Monika Dalkin (seen on the Simple Things blog, so much inspiration there).
Fifth row: bowl by Stig Lindberg for Gustavsberg.

25 comments:

amelia studio said...

Yes, those perfectionist tendencies can be a hindrance with clay -- I have that trouble, too. Over time though, this is such a helpful practice when you're constantly having to let go, let go, let go. I think this is why ceramics is my favorite thing to practice.

erica said...

I took ceramics in college, and it was one of the most frustrating yet satisfying experiences. I used to get so anxious about throwing so I spent most of the time wedging or hand building. I would love to take classes and try the wheel again, though.

jenny gordy said...

Amy, yes! It's so good for me to practice letting go. The whole point of me doing this was just to have fun, but I'm getting life lessons too.

Erica, I didn't know you did ceramics! That's so cool. I'm sure you don't have a lot of time right now, but I hope you can get back to it. Your comment makes me laugh because I spent the first couple of classes feeling so unsure of myself that I just wedged clay for like 20 min!

Anna said...

I bet you'll make beautiful things, when all is said and done! Lovely inspiration you've collected.
I've only ever tried hand building, though I would love to learn to use a wheel. I took a class with a specialist in Native American pottery, and we used all sorts of great patterns as inspiration. She taught us how to select our own clay from the ground (one of the advantages of living in certain areas of the southeast: easily sourced clay!) I hope to give it another try sometime.

jenny gordy said...

Anna, that sounds amazing!

stephanie renee said...

so much good inspiration! I had the same problem when I first started classes this summer until i realized i really prefer pieces that look imperfect and handmade. so far i have only been working on the wheel, but i am really excited to start hand building.

dahlhaus said...

Oh good for you!! It's sometimes hard to start working with a new medium when you are really skilled at something else- the learning curve can be a bit hard to take! But do relax and enjoy the process- clay can have so many beautiful qualities and I'm sure, with some time and patience, you will find your way.
Also, don't be daunted by glazing. So many people find that they really enjoy the making part of clay and then hate glazing, because it's another whole part of the process that has to be learned and then committed to the kiln where you have no control! Again, it takes a little time and patience (you can make little pinch pots to test glazes with- often a fun and less committed way to find out what happens in the kiln then the pots you've slaved over...)! Have fun!

Eve Cege said...

hi
very nice this pottery.

jen said...

wow, so excited that you are doing this. i have been wanted to take a ceramics class. i love your inspiration!

briannelee said...

Very pretty. I love that lamp!

Samantha said...

Oh fun! I've wanted to take a ceramics class too for a long time - I researched the process for a book and haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. I think I'd be like you, a perfectionist. I always become frustrated when I'm not good at something in the short amount of time I always allow myself.

bella celestial said...

Wow, that's great, good luck and enjoy the process of creating. I received my patterns. Thank you, your packaging was so nicely done and the fact that you took time to write a note was very kind. The best part of everything was the surprise timing. I w as expecting it after October 7. Thank you very much.

NICOMADE said...

this post is so inspiring! i was thinking about taking a pottery class this month, but got so nervous about the whole thing since i'm convinced that i'm 3-dimensionally challenged. but your post makes reconsider :)

anna of (green gable) said...

These look like they would make good fabric patterns, too! I think it's so great that you are taking a new class in a new place. I love the photos on your blog--did you ever take a photography course, or are you self taught? I have been hemming and hawing about taking a photog. course, and your post has inspired me!

xo, anna of (green gable)

fleur_delicious said...

yay, FUN! I have been saying for YEARS that I am going to finally learn to throw - and still haven't gotten around to it. One of these years. I can feel it coming. I had ceramics in high school and I could build anything, but throwing - that was another story. Hahaha, I was gawdawful. You're not alone! =) I'd like to think that when I get back to it, I'll be a bit better than I was at 15. After all, I have chilled out immensely since then ;)

I cannot wait to see your pieces when you are ready to show them!!

Chau said...

I love the images you gathered, and I'll have to save it for when it's my turn to teach clay this year. Maybe these will help convince my kids that their pieces can be beautiful even if its "imperfect" and not glazed in super bright colors.

jennifer said...

Love these inspiration images...can't wait to see what you make!

amy a said...

Yay, I'm so glad you decided to do this Jenny! It's a great experience even if you don't end up keeping everything you make. I spent many a class at the wheel making one wonky pot after another and then crumbling them up. Let's just say hand-building is much more my forte ;) Glad to hear you're trying something new and having fun!

Jennifer said...

Can't wait to see what you make.Please post pics soon!

Isn't Belinda's blog (Simple Things) awesome? I don't know how she locates all of those great finds.

Lissa said...

oh jenny! this is so funny! I'm sure you'll do great - I was OBSESSED with the wheel last summer in my class (and signed up for another in January). I can't wait to see what you're making!

(my initial reaction was utter jealousy to see what you were making already :) good to know you aren't an immediate protege at evertying!)

Marginamia said...

hmmm, I should have taken a pottery class before becoming a parent!

Sigrid said...

I find this post interesting for a few reasons. One of my best memories of my move to Des Moines many years ago was me time taking ceramics classes. I knew no one and these nights for me were such a treasure to extend the knowledge I had from college, and to meet new people. I clicked with my teacher and enjoyed many a coffee with her. An empty place began to be my place. In San Francisco when I was feeling my life was all about work, I took a January knitting class. I learned something knew, began exploring craft again, and had some great Wednesday nights ~ and a lifetime of special memories I treasure. Being somewhere new can be hard, centering a pot in order to center yourself ~ a gift. Keep it up!

tanya said...

Have you watched the episode of Community about Beginner Pottery? :D That should get you going. Hee.

S said...

This is so fantastic!
I remember Finland, the beautiful houses with things like this in the windows.

To love it.

Flora said...

Hello Jenny, haven't been there in a while (moved to Paris) but am happy to be back! Thankyou for sharing your clay experiments, I would love to take some classes too... Have a lovely end of week!