My first wheel-throwing pottery class. Expectations v.s. reality.

posted on October 7th 2019 in Arts & pottery with 0 Comments

If you’re like me and never touched a potter’s wheel before, expect a real learning experience. You will probably sign up to your first class because you’ve heard of how therapeutic it is, the feeling of doing something with your own hands in this digital world where we spend most of our time in front of screens, your mum has asked you to make her a vase for her flowers… So you sign up being sure you’re going to leave the class with at least a piece that you will be proud to put on your living room.

The first class

The first class should instruct you on the type of clay you’ll be using and how to cut and wedge it for the wheel. “Wedging” means to knead the clay and make it supple for use.

The instructor should take time to thoroughly demonstrate the wheel-throwing process: centering, opening, raising, shaping, and removing a pottery vessel (usually bowl) from a wheel. After a demonstration like this in my class, we were allowed to practice what we learned on our own wheels.

Again, this is a real learning experience. A skilled instructor has the knack for making the pottery making process look reaaaaally simple, but a beginner should not expect it all to come so easy at first. Through practice, a willing student will become skilled at demonstrating the techniques shown to them.

Your first class experience may be much different than mine. My first class was challenging, messy, and somewhat disheartening. By the end of the two hours I was convinced that I was not cut out for wheel-thrown pottery because each time I tried to duplicate the instructor’s steps on my own clay, I fell short. I grew increasingly frustrated and wanted to give up. Thankfully it was only two hours long. It was through persistence and patience coming back each week that this attitude changed, I became more skilled, and I didn’t give up after all! This picture is the only thing I managed to save from my first class. Yes, you do lots of tapas dishes at the beginning. But I’m now starting to do some taller vases!

My first ever wheel-thrown pot. A tiny tapas dish

After the First Class

If your first class went smooth, you are on your way to becoming a wheel-thrown pottery master. If you struggled, you’ll find the second and successive classes easier as you go (I’m still on this process, but I can already confirm that being constant is starting to pay off). After each of my classes, I have made progress!

A pottery class with a conscientious instructor should be a continuous learning experience. Each of our class sessions had two parts: a demonstration and studio time. Our instructor was available to answer any questions and aid us during the entire class session, which was reassuring.

I will talk a bit about the frustration you may feel on your first few classes in my next post, as I’ve come to realise it is a wide-spread feeling among everyone starting in pottery, so it should not really put you off.

Are you starting your journey on pottery too? Let me know how you’re getting on with it! 🙂

Cover photo by Krys Alex on Unsplash

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