Pottery 101


I jumped with some trepidation in to the world of pottery this month. I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous to try a new thing. Usually I’m super excited but as I began to research clays, glazes and kilns I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper to the point of being overwhelmed by all the technicalities. The world of pottery is a big place I’m telling you. I looked to the technical side of my brain and unfortunately didn’t find much there, sigh…oh well… you can’t be good at everything. I’m a creative rule breaker at heart but you really need to stick to the rules when it comes to high temperatures and possible explosions.  I managed to muddle through, finding answers to my questions thanks to nice potters and store owners alike. One gentleman suggested I send pictures of my kiln to him and he pointed out I was missing a few parts. Egads!  I have no idea what I’m doing. Inbetween work trips Paul miraculously wired the kiln up for me in the garage (it takes a ridiculous amount of power as you can imagine) and I no longer had any more excuses. It was time to try it all out. I had driven to Kitchener to buy a small amount of starting supplies, clay, glaze and pyrometric cones so we jumped in for real. (Why didn’t I take a course back in January??? oh right, we were already busy enough as it was. haha, I always do things the hard way. ) Ok time to stop complaining and on to the bragging.  😉

It worked! You can only imagine my amazement. Of course there’s a lot behind that mug you’re holding in your hand.

Since I had agreed to teach a pottery class to some grade 5/6 kids (yes, that was before I knew ANYTHING about pottery. Oh silly me…hindsight is 20/20.) I decided to make a sample of all the projects I was planning to make with my own girls first.. First we made  some pinch pots, then coil built cupcake tops and lastly slab built mugs.

My girls did a great job! Of course I was pretty much a paranoid control freak most of the time but they came together alright. I seem to relax each time we do a project so there’s hope. I rolled out the clay for the mugs, they decorated them using alphabet pasta, some stamps and things and I built them in to mugs.

After the bisque firing they used some underglaze to put those bright colours on the cupcakes and then we put a clear glaze over everything. The glaze firing was pretty exciting and frightening at the same time. The kiln reaches over 2100 degrees when firing to cone 6 (and now don’t I sound technical, yay!) and when I looked in to check if the pyrometric cones had melted yet all I could see was white. Made me think of Daniel in the lions den…yikes.

Thankfully nothing exploded, and the next morning when I opened the kiln I still needed potholders to pull everything out. The glaze worked beautifully! It’s amazing to think that we actually melted glass over clay to make these things. I was happiest with my little succulent pinch pots. I used my trusty cheese grater for the texture and I love them! The cupcake colours looked pretty fabulous too.




The first scary attempt was behind me and just in time, I had a class of 15 or so (the numbers seem to change a bit week to week…?) waiting for me to “show them how it’s done” ha. Keep your fingers crossed kiddos!



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