So far my clay journey has been a giant experiment. Every time a blob of clay landed on the wheel, there was a question about what would come out of it. Would it be a total collapse? Maybe a cup? A bowl? A bowl that started as a cup and then wouldn’t go where I wanted it to?
With a little more time on the wheel, it has been easier to actually plan and predict what to make. So with an upcoming Art Fair (woohoo, a chance to sell some pots!), it was time to start planning what to make, and making things more uniform. As in making the same cup twice, or more.
The first challenge was starting with the same amount of clay. Easy. I got a digital scale and learned to weigh clay. Then I had to figure out how to make it the same height and diameter. Not so easy. So far, my only sophisticated measuring tool has been a strip of card stock. This is great until about the third cup, when my wet muddy hands have transformed a relatively solid object into something resembling spaghetti. And the idea of having the same size ball of clay to start with is all well and good, until it’s time to get the thing to move the way I want it to. Nonetheless, I got several similar size and shape mugs thrown. Not identical. Similar. Hey, it’s art and one-of-a-kind, right?
Now with somewhat of a time deadline, I had to speed up the process as well. Instead of throwing one or two pots a day, it was time to pick up the pace-or volume. Again, fine challenge. Except for every pot thrown, there is another step or two that has to be done in the next day or so. My tendency is to have some fun on the wheel and then go off to do other things for a few days. Ooops. That means coming home to dry pots. Since the pot must be trimmed when it is leather hard, that’s a challenge for a distracted woman like me. Leather hard means exactly that. Trim is too late and it’s powder. Trim it too early and it’s a pile of mush. Leather hard reminds me of a peach. When it’s ripe, it’s amazing. And that stage lasts about three nano-seconds in the life cycle of a peach. It seems to me that pots are leather
hard for about the same three nano-seconds. How to catch the pot when it’s just right?
Somehow I managed to trim and attach handles, and the next few days is a blur. The pots got dry enough to bisque fire. Then it was time to glaze. Instead of my usual small batches, I divided the 30 or so pots into two groups. The first group got one type of glaze and the second group got the other. Again, it’s all sort of a blur. Then I fired it and voila! Magic. It never ceases to amaze me that mud, hands, heat and glaze create a useful piece of stoneware that can last forever.