Friday, March 11, 2011

Pot Parties...

Oops, make that pottery parties!! I'm not sure I've mentioned it here, but I took up a new hobby last year - pottery. Now the cool thing about my new pottery obsession, is that I get to take classes and do all my work at the Red Kiln Pottery Studio. So not only is pottery another marvelous outlet, but it is a social one as well. The studio is home to many really awesome artists, who are helpful, friendly and fun. Some of the fun includes pottery exchange parties and last weekend they had a mug exchange. For me these exchanges are both challenging an intimidating. Challenging because being relatively new to the art my skills aren't quite "there" yet. Improving all the time, but far from professional. Intimidating because really awesome potters also attend these parties, so I really want to bring something that doesn't scream novice mud musher.

When I first started pottery my goal was to make the perfect coffee mug... right size, right weight, right feel to the handle. Well this turned out to be a difficult goal. Coffee mugs are hard! Clay shrinks, so what seems like an ample mug when thrown often ends up more like a tea cup. Handles are not easy to "pull", shape and attach. So after 3 classes, a year of classes, and about 40 practice mugs, I was still worried about creating anything "good enough".

Pottery is kind of slow... to make a mug you throw it on the wheel, allow it dry for a period of days, them trim it and add handles. I usually allow mine to dry slowly (more days) then it gets fired in the bisque kiln. Then I get to glaze, after which the piece gets set on the shelf awaiting the final firing in the big gas reduction kiln, which only gets fired once every week or two. The big kiln takes a day to fire, and at least a day to cool.

My entries for the mug exchange came down to the wire... my six mugs came out of the kiln the day before the party. Lucky for me, for the first time in my year of pottery, I was pretty happy with what came out of the kiln, I actually had a hard time deciding which two to the party. With a little help from friends I picked the green floral mug and the fish mug. And, thankfully for my fragile ego, my mugs were not the last picked.

Now the cool thing about the party is I got to bring home other artists mugs! I am know the proud owner of one of Susan's Teli-kokopelli mugs. Teli = telemark = skiing. Kokopelli, the flute player of ancient indian rock art. A skiing Kokopelli! Totally cool. My other choice was Lara's computer mug. She took all sorts of computer parts and made stamps to texture the clay for her decorations. Totally unique and totally cool.

Next up on the pottery party circuit is a stein party... a stein is just a big mug... right?


FeliciaEvita said...

Linda, your works are gorgeous. And I love hearing about your enthusiasm for your pottery. It's so great to be able to have passion for something besides work!

Ellen said...

I vote that you stop being intimidated at the exchange parties. The more experienced potters wouldn't attend if they didn't want to be there. They know the less experienced people will have things to exchange and they go anyway - so live it up, sistah, and enjoy.

Libby Leuchtman said...

Very cool Linda. I loved reading your story and seeing your mugs. Sounds like fun.