When I was a kid I was a huge fan of the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. There’s some pretty sophisticated humor coming from those Fractured Fairy Tales. Between shorts, Bullwinkle would occasionally try to pull a rabbit out of his hat. In every attempt, Bullwinkle fails. He pulls a lion, tiger, rhino, bear and once even Rocky. But, no rabbit. Bullwinkle isn’t prepared to pull a rabbit from his hat because he’s always got the wrong hat (there’s a life lesson there).
This week, just shy of mid-semester, I introduced my beginning students to the potter’s wheel. They have been chompin’ at the bit to get to throw. But, silly me…I insist they start with hand building. I really think hand building allows for a less intimidating introduction to clay. It’s slow. It provides students the opportunity to pay attention and build a foundation in the clay process. While the wheel tends to mesmerize the students and they abandon the details in their struggle to throttle the spinning clay.
When giving a throwing demo I’ll hear comments about how easy the process looks…it’s like magic. I remind them that I’ve been doing this longer than some of them have been alive (seems every year my students, my doctors and the IT guy at Best Buy get younger, but I never feel a day over 35).
Here’s a truth they won’t recognize until they’ve gone through a sufficient struggle, it’s only easy…it only looks like magic because of preparation; having what I need to pull the rabbit out of my hat.
During yesterday’s demo, I explained that they needed to pay attention to the details in the preparation. First, wedge your clay! So many student man-handle their clay; not wedging it properly and actually introducing air into the clay (that’s never helpful). Then, there’s this idea that the centering of the clay isn’t all that big a deal – it’s just a hoop to jump through to get to the real magic of creating a pot. I needed to clear that up!
So then, I gave another demo with the clay ever so slightly off center (the wrong hat). As the process continued, I directed their attention to the increasing asymmetry of the piece as I worked against the out-of-center clay. My years of throwing allowed me to get pretty far in the process. Still, the lack of symmetry predestined the piece to fail…and it failed spectacularly!
Nope. No rabbits. Not one.
Get out and look at art folks!
Draw With Everything
Phoenix Sky Harbor
Terminal 4, Level 3, eight display cases
on exhibit now through February 28, 2016
Exhibiting artists: Beth Shook*, Monica Aissa Martinez, Mark McDowell, Jerry Jacobson, Rebecca Davis, Mary Shindell, and Carolyn Lavendar.
*my work is located at the A Gates (American and US Airways)
Make plans to attend!
Chandler-Gilbert Community College
Pecos Campus, Student Pavilion
October 20, 2015
10:30am – 6pm
Donations benefit the Chandler Christian Community Center to support their efforts to feed those in the local community who might otherwise go without food.