Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: bowls, classes

This week was the week where I teach my students to make a bowl on purpose instead of a cylinder gone bad. But since I only have returning “advanced” beginners this session, it was a bit more of a refresher course. A basic bowl thrown with intention from the very beginning. No flat bottom. Nice even curve on the inside. A real bowl with a real curve.

And then, as we normally do every session, after the demo I continued to throw fifteen more bowls. A full bag of clay. The plan is typically that once I finish throwing all of the bowls we then re-convene to go through Part Two of the demo. My favorite part where we do some quick fun of altering & decorating each bowl. Showing my students how to “play” a bit more. To design their bowls a bit more. To alter. To re-shape. To add some pattern. Color. Texture. To make it their own!!!

So that’s just what we did.

When we re-convened, I sprung a little surprise on my students.
Since they are all returning “advanced” beginners, I knew that they’ve all seen my usual demo. Fluting. Flanging. Slipping, Altering. But since the whole goal is for them to “make it their own”… I decided to take it literally. So I did the first bowl with a flange bent outwards.

And then I sprung it on them… THEY were going to do the demo!!!

Yes, each of them had to step it up and show off some technique that I’ve done before to one of my bowls. And if they did it, I told them they could keep my bowl. Because now they’ve made it their own. Quite literally.

Unfortunately, I was quite prepared to catch them all on film… but I missed a few. But here are the most of them. Bowls that I threw but my students did a bang-up job of doing the demo, sharing with their skills and techniques with everyone else.

April added some angular flair to her bowl. She curved in the lower half from the outside, and then gave some definition to the change of angle.

Tony did his first split-rim EVER!!!
The first attempt didn’t quite work so well. So we had him re-compress the rim and try again. The second time was perfect. And then he did a couple finger pinches for detail.

Natalie took her round bowl and squared it off a bit… and then added some French Green slip to the interior.

Grace used two different colored slips blending them in a spiral pattern. Once the interior was covered, she dragged a tool through the slip while the bowl was spinning to create this wonderful ombre spiral effect.

Taylore did a flanged rim… and then added a layer of colored slip. She used white slip, so it is a subtle change from the color of the B-Clay. Hopefully it will show up even more when it’s glazed & fired.

Katie wanted to do a finger-fluted rim. A couple little flip & squish accents… whoops!!!…
okay, so maybe she squished and flipped just a little too much?!!!

And so she tried again… lucky we had an extra bowl already made…

And a layer of French Green slip along the fluted flanged rim.

Patty decided to go for a split rim. And then flute it both inwards & outwards to give her bowl a sort of lotus pattern.

Stacey coated the inside of her bowl with French Green slip. And then did a fun chattered pattern through the slip… her first attempt ever! It’s the combination of rhythmic tapping of a rib through the slip while the bowl is spinning. Stacey was quite pleased with her first attempt at chattering. I think she might be addicted now?!

Catherine took her bowl and divided it into five sections with a MKM Spacing Wheel. She then gently shaped the five sections outward for a gently undulating rim.

Melissa went all out and did the newspaper stencil trick. She cut a pattern out of newspaper, wet it, and then smoothed it gently onto the interior surface of the bowl. She then carefully covered the interior with French Green slip. After some good coverage, she gently pulled out the newspaper stencil to reveal the pattern.

My teaching assistant Susan took care of the last bowl. She pulled out four side points, and then shaped them into points.

So there it is for another session… the same old Bowl Demo with a wonderful twist. So much fun to see my students step it up… to show off a bit… to see what they’ve learned… to see them make some great bowls!!! A wonderful twist. And I think they might now have a little more appreciation for what I go through doing every demo every time. About time they tables were turned on them. And they did an incredible job!!!


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