When I signed up for a couple classes last fall at the local community college, I had no clue it would be the best decision I’ve made in a long time. I was ready to explore new creative frontiers and what I discovered took me by surprise. I’m not slowing down anytime soon. I’m starting the spring semester next week and taking another ceramics class, a photography class, and a small business class. Before the rush of a new semester begins, I thought I would reflect on the two classes I took last fall.
I went into this class hoping for a fun, new hobby, but it turned into an obsession. Over the course of the semester I ended up making about sixty pieces, from little handmade things to lots and lots of thrown pots. I had so much fun making as much as I could and learning the muscle memory of throwing on the wheel. Because I was cruising through the pieces so fast, nothing is perfect. Perfection is not my goal, I love the organic beauty of clay, but my pieces were heavy and unbalanced which became less of a problem the more I threw. The blurry phone picture above is just one class of throwing, I couldn’t get enough.
One of my biggest mistakes was I waited until the last minute to glaze everything. All my fired pieces started to pile up in my locker. I didn’t want to stop making, so the last 2 weeks of school I found myself rushing to glaze about fifty pieces all with random colors and techniques. When I saw my finished pieces I was disappointed, the glazing was not great. But it’s okay, I’m a big believer in the importance of making mistakes in the creative process. I took extensive glaze notes, so I can work off that next semester.
The ceramics studio couldn’t have been more wonderful. I had a teacher who was incredibly patient with my millions of questions. All the wheels, shop equipment, and glazes were open to all students to use. The lab technicians fired anything I put out on the kiln shelves. And there was plenty of open lab time outside of class to keep creating.
I have a clear direction of how I want my portfolio to progress next semester and some specific techniques I want to master, including slab building and slowing down on the wheel to focus on quality not quantity.
The little stubby, gloopy pot above was the very first one I made on the wheel, the pitcher with the blue handle was the last piece I threw. What a difference two months makes!
The first few weeks of Photoshop were rough. It was a really complicated program to get used to, plus we were working on Macs which are completely foreign to me. There may have been a couple tears trying to keep up with the professor. I got the hang of it in no time. One of my favorite things about school was watching the progress of my classmates. I may have learned the basics, but a few students were making incredible pictures. They were clearly passionate about the endless worlds that could be created and it was contagious. I sat next to a hilarious, 20-year-old, Canadian guy who knew a lot about the program. I probably would have learned more if we weren’t joking around during the lessons, but at least he could help me out when I often needed it. I made a lot weird creatures for the various assignments like purple dinosaurs, strawberries that morphed into kittens, and swimming cows.
I don’t think I will be returning to the classroom to learn more about Photoshop, but I have it on my computer at home now so I can practice on my own. It will certainly come in handy for my photography class next semester.
This was the first project. We had to take a picture (I took this while camping) and colorize an element in it. Working through those tree branches was tricky.
Another project was to create a country music concert poster. One of the big reasons I wanted to take this class was to work with text and this was great practice. The teacher put my poster on display in the graphic design kiosk in the library *one gold star please*.
Our final project was to create an animal human hybrid. What’s better than transforming my dog into a proper gentleman? His name is Lord Pickett Von Davy. After I assembled the components of the picture, I went over the entire image with the virtual paintbrush to make it look hand painted.