Friday, October 9, 2009

Beginners part ll

Thanks for all of the feed back on the previous post! I started teaching hand building because I was working in the studio as a studio assistant a few years ago and I would see all of the frustration the beginners went through on the wheel trying to throw a mug or a bowl. They just wanted something they could glaze and take home and wanted instant gratification, which you are not going to get with the wheel. They didn't want to slow down and take the time to develop the skills necessary to throw, they just wanted the end product. Many people taking classes at the artscenter are doing it for recreation and fun, not trying to become a professional potter. It's nice to see them in my classes take home mugs, vases, and trays that they hand build and now pitchers! Yesterday one of my students made a really great pitcher and she was so happy with it. It felt good to see how proud she was of her accomplishment. She is the one that said she wanted to make a pitcher, and like Brandon mentioned in the comments, I cringed. The week before another girl said she wanted to make a teapot! Why do they always ask for teapots!?!? Oh yeah, Brandon the dinner sets, What ARE they thinking!??!
Like Judy, I do believe that doing an early hand building project is a great confidence booster and it helps my students get used to the nature of clay much better than the wheel, where they usually just end up with a big wet blob of clay, a bucket of slop and a tray full of water to empty and clean up:) When I did a demo on making a bowl and a plate with slabs, one girl mentioned that she thought it was cheating. I don't really know how to respond to these "cheating" comments. What is cheating about making something, no matter how you go about it, if you are being creative and enjoying it, why does it matter how you accomplish it? I have sort of felt that way about slip casting in the past, don't really see the point, but hey, there are a lot of folks making some cool things with molds, so go for it, if that's what you enjoy. To me, cheating is only when you are making exact replicas of things working potters are trying to make a living selling themselves, taking the ideas they worked hard to develop and not even trying to make them your own, just flat out copying their work, I don't like that. Whitney Smith had a great post on this subject a while back. So anyway, happy days. My students will go home with their proud treasures and hopefully come back for more in the future instead of giving up because of wheel frustrations! Thanks for all of your comments.


Peter said...

Hi Tracey,
Thanks for the info regarding raku on last post comments, it was much appreciated.

Your thoughtful posts about teaching beginners are helpful too. It is a nice thing to aim for that "students will go home with their proud treasures and hopefully come back for more", I need to keep such things in mind when I teach. said...

Peter: this pottery sampler class has turned out to be a good idea. We started with pinch pots and progressed each week with a new technique and the students built their skills slowly. I would bring in photos from books and magazines each week to show examples of how great a pinch pot or coil pot can be just to show another way of doing things besides the wheel. During the first class as we made out pinch pots we had time to sit and share with each other stories of ourselves and get acquainted. I also used that time to talk about pottery and what we would be doing.
They really do like something nice to take home at the end.