The BIG 30 Project: #11 Try Pottery

As much as I love the late-great Patrick Swayze, wanting to try pottery had nothing to do with the movie Ghost. 

Instead, it had a lot to do with the show Face Off. Not the movie, with Nicholas Cage, the show where special effects artists have to design and create unique make-ups in a short period of time before being judged by three experts in the field of creature design and make-up.

My favourite part of that show is seeing the artist create something from nothing with the clay and then watching it come to life in the finished product.

I’m not a big make-up person (aside from Halloween), but I am and was fascinated by the process of taking a lump of clay and making it into a real life THING.

So, I signed up for a 6 week pottery class.

Obviously, I couldn’t take pictures because my hands were pretty dirty, but I did keep a small collection of notes to sum up each class.

Week One:

Dear Pottery Diary,

Today I met the instructors and the class. We have one token male among us but are otherwise a group of ladies of various ages. Our class is large, so we were split into two groups. Group 1 is learning with the wheel and Group 2 is learning hand-building.

I’m in Group 1, which is exciting because the wheel throwing part is what I was most excited for. I’m kind of nervous about trying something new in a group of strangers but it’s not too bad since most of my energy is spent valiantly resisting the urge to yell out the lyrics to Unchained Melody.

Despite being new and struggling a bit, I managed to make a bowl, cup, and what would have been a beautiful vase if I hadn’t inadvertently destroyed it but is now a ring holder. The ring holder is the derp-iest thing I made. It is a disappointment to me but less of one than I thought it would be. I have named it Horace.

Next week we trim our pieces. I have no idea what that means.

Week Two:

Dear Pottery Diary,

This class we trimmed our leather hard pieces. Leather hard just means, kind of dry but not totally dry, I think. It was pretty intimidating, but it’s basically just shaving the piece down and smoothing it, which I liked.

Our instructor showed us how to carve out a foot in our pieces so we can glaze the bottom, if we want to get fancy. I made feet for ALL my stuff because I’m so fancy, you already know.

I even carved a foot on Horace, though he remains a disappointment.

Still no sign of Whoopi Goldberg or my dead fiance, but I remain hopeful.

Week Three:

Dear Pottery Diary,

Our pieces were fired in the kiln this week, so now we get to glaze them.

As it turns out, glaze is basically powdered glass mixed with water and is not remotely the colour it will be when it gets fired. Like, the black glaze is red and the clear glaze is grey. This is clearly witchcraft, further research is needed.

I decided to make the bowl and mug I made match. I’m going to give them to Grampa and Granny Reta for Christmas, providing they don’t suck (providing my pottery doesn’t suck, not my grandparents, obviously). I’m glazing them with Coal and a Quartz, which should end up looking kind of cute.

Horace, the disappointment, I am glazing with Turquoise. That way, at least he’ll be a pretty colour.

Next week we start hand building, I still don’t know what that is.


The Hobbit set: Mug and bowl of adorable porportions


Oooh so fancy. 


Horace. The disappointment. F@&k you, Horace. 

Week Four:

Dear Pottery Diary,

Turns out hand building is kind of like a strange mixture of playing with a Play Dough machine and sewing. You flatten out a piece of clay, then you press or carve pattern into it, and then you can cut it out in a pattern to put it together to be a mug or a vase or whatever.

I decided to try to make a mug for Dad, so I took a plank of wood with the bark still on and pressed it all over my slab of clay before I cut out the pattern for a stein (which is closest to Dad’s mug size). I made the slab into a cylinder before cutting out a circle and ceiling the bottom. Then, I used more of the patterned clay to make a handle so that the entire thing would have tree bark patterning on it.

I think it turned out really well.

I wanted to make something different for Mum, so I pressed some pine needles into a slab of clay and made her a cheese tray, though I guess she could put whatever she wanted on it.

I may or may not have used the plank and the pine needles because I liked the smell of them. That’s probably weird but I don’t care.

Next week we’re learning sculpture but I’ll miss it because for some reason our staff Christmas Party at work is on a Wednesday.

Week Five:

Dear Harry Pottery Diary,


Week Six:

Dear Pottery Diary,

Today was the last class and we glazed our hand building stuff. I used iron oxide on Dad’s tree mug to make it look more authentic and glazed it with Moss colour on the inside and clear gloss on the outside to show off the texture.

With Mum’s cheese plate, I rubbed the outside with iron oxide to pick up on all the textures there and glazed the inside with Kryptonite so that Superman can’t come hanging around us.




Inside the Tree Mug


Oooh much texture. So tree. Wow.



The Cheesy Plate

I’m quite proud of my pottery accomplishments. I think they all turned out rather well. (Except Horace) I gave them all away at Christmas (Except Horace) and everyone really seemed to like them.

Dad liked his mug so much he has decided it should be displayed rather than used. I’m both exasperated and touched by this. It’s like when I got Grampa a really nice bottle of Sherry and he kept saving it for a special occasion. Like, just enjoy the thing I got you.

At least I know Dad will enjoy looking at the mug just as much as using it. Maybe more so as he can actually drink his coffee while looking at it this way.

Whoopi Goldberg never did show up, by the way. Nor did the ghost of Patrick Swayze.

Oh well, maybe I can hide in a convent and join the choir. If I’m lucky, our tour bus might break down at some kind of Roadhouse.



Posted on January 8, 2016, in The BIG 30 Project and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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