I think everyone has felt the pull of the pottery wheel since The Great Pottery Throwdown began. Sunken Studio is a well-known and amazing space on the edge of Leeds City Centre, who offer tutored taster sessions in both throwing and hand building. Using the 16% for artists financial support, I was able to book myself onto one of these courses to learn the basics of handling clay that spins around.
I studied ceramics for half a year during my university exchange programme to Finland, 10 years ago. I’m not sure if that counts as experience – I wasn’t very good at it then, and so I didn’t hold out too much hope for myself now. However, the tutor was excellent and without the language barrier, I was able to fully understand exactly what my hands should be doing throughout each stage of the build.
After learning to centre the clay (coning and flattening the clay three times), I was proud to realise it wasn’t as daunting as I had previously remembered.
We were guided on creating the perfect bottom, ensuring both a sturdy thickness and a smooth even base.
The next task was to pull the clay up from the bottom to form the walls of the pot. A task so nerve racking, I forgot to take any photographs. This one took the most practice, but after a 2.5 hour class, I had made three pots (and one blob of wet clay).
As you can see, my first attempt was the most accurate. The last was when I started to get too confident, and the clay put me back in my place.
The chosen pot will now be allowed the become leather hard before it is trimmed. It will then be allowed to fully dry before it’s first bisque firing. A clear glaze will be applied after, and it will be fired for a second time. If the Kiln God’s are kind, I’ll be able to collect it in around 4 weeks’ time!
The taster session has helped me feel more confident in my understanding and handling of clay, which we often use in the Pyramid studio (even if it doesn’t always require firing), and despite some initial nerves, I had fun – the most important part of any creative activity.