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Friday, February 25, 2011


I decided to take a class. I figure I will only be here for a little while and its time for some instruction. I have the basics down of how to make pottery but I lack that artistic finesse. The class has 4 students, and 2 instructors. Hows that for bang for your buck?! Essentially I ended up with one on one instruction for 2 hours. And it was incredibly helpful! Two things really popped out. First, I can actually throw with very little water. The clay stays more stable and I was able to pick up pieces straight off the wheel, no more bats! Before, I was barely able to pick up mug shapes because they were so wet. No mas! Second, when throwing vertical forms, it makes the most sense to get a nice tall cylinder, and then shape. I've always tried to shape as I go along and this generally does not work out too well! Pushing the cylinder form out really creates a nice round shape-much more appealing than whatever I was doing before! Still a long way to go though... Its great to have learned so much in so little time and to have such a great resource here. The studio atmosphere was awesome and I am looking forward to next week!

So I finally finished getting the drywall up and mudding, now just painting...
.....and then I can go back to what really matters! ...when I'm not dealing with class, work, or working out, or being social.....

I got really excited about throwing a big bowl a few days ago, but I always forget everything shrinks! I swear this thing was huge on the wheel. Now its getting smaller, and also off centered. Maybe next class I can get someone to show me how to successfully throw a big bowl?!
And last but not least, almost have a bisque kiln load! Hopefully the glaze will be here soon! Looking forward to producing some usable wares!
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I have a track record of becoming immersed in pottery and then issues focusing on anything else. Hence today being the most frustrating day ever!

I had to get up at 5:30 (AM) to get my bike workout in before a 9 o'clock meeting, followed by errands(mostly buying stuff to finish drywalling the cieling of my sunroom) and now I am in the computer lab until 6:15. Don't get me wrong, I am stoked to have a job, but I would much rather be trimming pots or making new ones.

Here I am hard at work, hardly working! My job is mostly doing research and data although this week I am setting up interviews for my professor. Every week is different, I guess I am also suposed to not fail my classes.

Like I said. So. stoked.

Monday, February 21, 2011

First Firings and Learning!

I did my first bisque firing, with my own kiln, all by myself last week. No longer a firing virgin! I was surprised by how easy it was. Simply load it up, hit a switch ever hour for the first four, let the cone melt and kiln sitter automatically shut off the kiln at ^05. Luckily, I did have some experience as a lab assistant during my undergrad so I know all the basics of loading and not to instantly open it up when its done out of excitement. Surprisingly the kiln has not been used in probably 10 years but everything worked perfectly. The firing took about 5 hours and another 12 to cool. Only one piece exploded, not sure why, but life goes on. I am fairly certain it was an untrimmed test piece so not all is lost.

I then tackled my first glaze firing. I was way more nervous about this one because so many things can go wrong. The glaze can destroy the entire kiln, things can explode, the garage could burn down, I really didn't know! So I went and got some Cone 6 glazes and got the ball rolling. I think I made the nice owner at my local pottery supply very nervous when she asked me what my clay body was and I responded with a blank stare and no answer. Ha, but she still sold it me! I have been very spoiled by always working with glaze in big buckets for dipping and a spray booth for large pieces. Welcome to MFS Ceramics, where we actually thought painting glaze on would work. I think it could have if I was willing to do 3 or 4 coats but who has time for that??? So unfortunately, I made a rookie error and most of the glaze is way too thin and the pieces look like a 5th grade art project. It really is amazing the effect that glaze has. So no picture of that. Too embarrassed.

Then I trimmed some mugs and instantly felt better because my handles have come a long way baby. The most important thing for me to remember about handles is that they do not need to look like they grew out of the piece. They simply need to be there as a way to bring the drinking vessel up to your mouth. What I used to was try to smooth out the entire thing and basically the handles ended up looking like a big ole mess. I would say they look somewhat elegant now. Well, maybe not that far, but at least better.

Nice to see some improvement. Looking forward to trimming some big bowls and platters this week, finishing up some more mugs, and getting the kiln going again. Also, may have ordered 5 gallon buckets with 25 lbs of raw glaze mix in the them. This has officially gotten serious!

Sunday, February 20, 2011 goes nothing!

Welcome to the world of MFS Ceramics! This blog will hopefully be turned into a website one day but for now this will have to do.

How I got involved in ceramics is a bizarre series of events. While studying business at Loyola University Chicago, I had to take this dreaded art requirement. I must have talked to 100 people about which class would be least likely to screw up my GPA and take up all my time! A lot of my friends took ceramics and assured me that it might be time consuming but it would be offset by the fact that I should get an A and the time consuming part was sort of fun and gave me 24/7 access to the studio. And so it began.

So apparently I am competitive. After getting a B+ on my first assignment, which I thought was of A+ quality, I got pissed off at the teacher and decided I would show him what pottery is. Everything else I did that semester was ridiculous and large and crazy but I got an A. The final project, a Buddha, sitting 18 inches tall and 18 inches wide sits on my dresser and reminds me everyday that while it has good craftsmanship, the wheel and functional ware are actually the direction I should take.

So fast forward through my undergrad and I ended up minoring in Ceramics, spending hours and hours and hours in the studio, and realizing that people like buying stuff made by other people.

In late 2007, my great Aunt Sally was diagnosed with a brain tumor and passed away shortly thereafter. She never knew that I had become so involved in pottery or that I would be inheriting her supplies. Reflecting back on her work and using her tools inspires me everyday that life is short and you should do what you love.

It has been such a blessing to inherit a kiln and potters wheel. What I got would have totaled well over $3000 were I to buy it today. And there is no way as a student and young professional desperately seeking employment that I could have equipped myself with such things. Now it sits in my garage and beckons me to come out.

Life changes have pushed me in a direction to pursue what I love again. Something that fills me and makes me whole. Pottery is part if this. Thus, I am pushing myself headfirst at full speed. I currently have ample free time due to an easy course load and waiting for graduation. There is a good chance that after graduation I will have even more free time so why not? People want my stuff and I am going to give it to them!