Monday, January 23, 2006

First Day of Ceramics

Today was my first day of my ceramics class. We learned how to wedge the clay to get rid of air pockets and distribute moisture more evenly within the clay. Clay for classes is free, and thus cheap in quality too. But good enough for us n00bs, eh?

Next, we learned about centering the clay on the wheel. You plop it down and hit it around until it's as good as you can manage — there are concentric rings on the wheel to help you judge its centeredness. Then you start spinning the wheel (with much water added) and pressing one hand against the mass to push it more center. Once it's not wobbling like that, you take your other hand, add pressure to both sides, and "cone up" the clay into a, well, cone. Then you moosh it back down into a mound, and the clay is (theoretically) nice and centered.

Our assignment for today was to make a cylinder, since many other forms are based off that simpler shape. As you can see from the photos, I never mananged a simple cylinder.

My first attempt went very well until I was thinning the walls and making the cylinder taller. At that point, part of the rim collapsed, or exploded, or something. Did Bad Things. But I declared the damaged rim to be a spout, I cleaned it up, and let the piece live.

For my second piece, I played around with the form a bit more. Straight walls being so first-piece, I tried hollowing out the shape but keep a narrow neck. After I'd accomplished that, I realized the base was about twice as thick as it should have been. But at that point, the jar/vase thing was too tall and too narrow for my fingers to thin the bottom. So I took a stick-tool and used it to hollow out another "well" in the clay. Since I couldn't fit my fingers inside the form, I couldn't smooth the new interior wall into the existing interior wall. Oh well, live and learn, eh?

While meddling with the stick-tool, I messed up the upper half of the form. To recover (because I like finding solutions), I ran my nail along the upper half to get rid of some mushy clay and add a spiral texture to it. The lip was majorly disformed at this point — so much so that a spout couldn't save it. A heart shape, on the other hand...

So I'm thinking I'll like this ceramics class more than my casting class from last quarter. Projects come along much faster, the form I shape is the final product, it can be colorful... Hopefully by the end of the quarter I'll actually have a few nice pieces.

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