Keiko’s workshop was an opportunity for experienced potters to extend their throwing skills, and by the end of the day they had all been given the chance to not only revise basic throwing skills, but also to work on a technique previously identified as a personal area of interest. This was a wonderful example of a well- balanced workshop, with demonstrations of basic skills and extension skills; and of hands on and observational activities.
1. Using Keane Stoneware 7, Keiko began the session by demonstrating firstly the making of a bowl, covering centering the clay, raising sides, and using a sponge in the right hand to assist in the process. The next demonstration was making a cylinder, with emphasis on raising the top inward so that it doesn’t collapse, and using a straight tool to keep the side straight. Everyone then made a bowl and a cylinder, which were put aside to be used later.
2. After a turning demonstration by Keiko, participants applied the demonstration skills by each turning a pot that Keiko had prepared the previous day.
3. Keiko sent a survey to each participant prior to the workshop, and this was used to identify the areas of most interest to each member of the group. By analysing the completed surveys, the next demonstrations by Keiko were led by the findings : * throwing a large pot, using about a quarter of a bag of clay* joining two pots to make a taller/larger form.
Techniques and skills for making large pots included: using a bat on a clay base; patting the clay down – it needs to be softish, hard clay is too difficult to work with; lock elbows in the groin; techniques in opening; using a slow wheel, you don’t need excess speed; the thickness when raised should be about one centimetre; trimming and turning make the important difference.
One of Keiko’s great hints on the day was, “ If you can make a medium sized pot, you can make a large one”.
Right! Motivation is always important!
When joining two pots, one of the useful hints was to make both pots on the same day, as they will then dry at the same rate.
6. Keiko also showed us how to mix clays on a pot using different coloured clays. A cavity or cavities can be made on the sides of the pot, then the contrasting clay squeezed in, or inlayed, then the pot thrown.
7. The next area covered was turning. Things to remember included checking that the clay used to hold the pot onto the wheel should not be too soft, and it should be pushed on to the wheel, not on to the pot; you can turn the basic sections of the pot and leave it to dry a bit more before finishing the turning; use your finger or a tool to indent then raise a ridge, as a guide for glazing.
It was then time for everyone to turn pots previously made by Keiko, and everyone was encouraged to turn in their own individual style.
8. After lunch, there was a Show and Tell session, where previously made pots brought in by participants were shown, and Keiko gave individual feedback where it was sought.
9. Finally, it was time for participants to work on their previously identified area of skill improvement, and the large pots, joined pots, and variations to the basic pots were a testament to the planning and demonstrations that Keiko managed to include in this action packed day. Participants were reminded that, “The wheel is a tool, so use it”, for example, in joining, scoring, brushing on slip, and a myriad of other uses.
It was amazing that so much was achieved in six hours. The day was, of course, a success, due to the organisation, pre- planning, and attention to detail that Keiko applied to the program of skill presentation, and to the identification of the needs and wants of the participants.
A final reminder from Keiko, “It is important to tell yourself what you are going to do, then do it.”
Thank you Keiko, this is a good life lesson, as well as something we can all apply to those moments where we need that extra confidence to move our skill base to the next level. Your presentation did this on many levels.
Welcome to the CCPS blog!
Central Coast Potters Society is a non-profit, community organisation of like-minded volunteers who love clay.