April 2010

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I few weeks ago I subbed in a level 2 ceramics class at the college.  I’ve been out of the classroom for about three years.  It felt good to teach again.

I was asked to demo bowls on the potter’s wheel, trim feet and discuss creating sets.  When I give throwing demos I always warn students that I will likely go about the process in a very different way than their instructor.

By warn I mean,
“students pay attention, there’s more to this than you think”.
“watch closely, that part of the process you’ve been struggling with may present itself in a new way”.
“I’m not just doin’ this to hear myself talk.  Listen up and ask questions”.

I find that potter’s have a sort of regional dialect to throwing.  Add to that the potter’s economy of handling the clay and you’ve got a whole new process.

One of the questions asked was about some of my tools.  Potter’s tend to make a lot of their tools.  While this is probably true for many jobs that require physical equipment, ceramic artists have a rich history for creating very personal tools specific to their process.

In particular, the question was about my throwing stick.  I was taught how to make this tool when I first learned to throw.  Those wimpy Popsicle stick like throwing tools that come in the basic student’s kit just don’t do the job efficiently – if at all.  Beginning students find this to be frustratingly true the first, third or maybe the tenth time that confounded stick ends up skewered into the undercut of their pot, hypnotically spinning while they attempt to stop the wheel in their panic to save the piece.

made tools

~handmade tools

~from top:
platter rib and aluminium finishing tools, by Tomas Mendoza.
twisted cut-off wires.
throwing sticks – (left to right) they become smaller with use.

repurposed tools

~repurposed tools

~from left:
adhesive comb, dog syringe, dental tools, spark plug brush, fork, printmaking tools, watercolor tool.

Chinese tools

~traditional Chinese tools

~from left:
mouth glaze sprayer, trimming tool, finishing tools made of Water Buffalo horn, sculpting knives, rib made of Water Buffalo horn.


handmade brushes

~handmade brushes

~from top:
Chinese natural brushes of a variety of animal hair and feathers.  Brushes that I’ve made – smaller two of goat hair, larger made from dog fur.

If you’re in the neighborhood….
My functional work us now being carried by Practical Art in central Phoenix.  Be sure to stop in sometime.

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