This past Saturday I took a three hour workshop, Learn to Use the Potter’s Wheel, at the Worcester Center for Crafts. It was something that was on my mental “bucket list” and I’m glad that I took the opportunity. I have always loved watching videos of pottery being made, and thought it would be a lot of fun to get my hands dirty. I have also heard that it is much harder than it looks, and this is true, but I’m glad that I had that expectation from the onset. I’m also glad that I took this one day workshop instead of a six week course because I knew it wasn’t something I seriously wanted to take up, but I still wanted to give it a try.
The instructor was Rose Esson-Dawson, who is a really nice and knowledgeable teacher. When taking a class like this it is very important to have an instructor who is patient and alright with being repetitive, because otherwise the whole experience could be easily ruined.
Some things I learned from this class:
1. I’m not built to be a potter. Apparently, it is advisable to be a tall person to be able to sit at the wheel comfortably. The next day after my class I was very sore, probably because of incorrect posture. I believe that if I took this up as a long-term interest and didn’t correct the ergonomic issue, I would most likely develop some kind of major repetitive strain injury.
2. I seem to be allergic to the clay. When I was working, I noticed that my hands started burning and when I washed the clay off, I noticed that I broke out into a red rash wherever the clay touched me.
Although it was difficult to get the clay to behave as I wanted, I do think that with enough practice I could eventually learn it. Using the wheel is very repetitive by nature, and in time I know that “muscle memory” would kick in and I would not be so frustrated. I actually didn’t even care if I came home with anything tangible from the class, but the instructor helped me out and I got to make two small bowl/ashtray looking dishes. I’ll be sure to draw a nice picture of them when I get them back from being fired.
Conclusion: I think long and hard before picking up a new medium, because of the cost and the learning curve involved. For now, I’ve decided to stick with watercolors, because it is low tech and relatively inexpensive, and I’m just getting skilled enough to be able to enjoy it. But taking a short-term class or workshop (especially one that provides the materials) is advisable because it gives you the chance to sample it without jumping in headlong.