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

Also this Thursday night, during our Throwdown Challenge class, we did a quick flip to handbuilding. Now most of my students are wheelthrowers… and NOT handbuilders! So the FLIP was on them!!! So I told them to wedge up two balls of clay… one one-pound ball, and another five pound ball.

So their first challenge was to take the one pound ball of clay to the table when it was their turn. And I gave them each five minutes to roll the longest coil that they could by hand. No tools except their hands. They could use the entire five minutes, or stop sooner if they thought they were done. Because if their coil were to break at any point in the coil rolling, their challenge was done – no re-attaching!!! And we would measure the longest remainder of their coil. Points were awarded for the longest coil.

Love the grimace… a little tough at the start… but it smoothed out later on…

What precipitated this handbuilding challenge was a discussion last week on how none of them really knew how to roll a coil… which flabbergasted me! I thought it was such a basic skill, but they were quick to point out that I have never taught it to them. To which I retorted that it was a wheelthrowing class, and not a handbuilding class. So I gave them a quick tutorial last week as an option for making handles. I even showed them how to resolve a bad coil… you know, one that is a bit rectangular and goes thump, thump, thump when you roll it. Just take the coil and twist it like a corkscrew (as seen below right) and then roll the coil again to smooth it all out.

We were all impressed when one of our few “Porcelain Players” decided to take on the challenge with porcelain. And then proceeded to impress the heck out of us with one of the longest coils of the night!!!

Of course, at the end of the challenge, a couple of my students threw down the gauntlet and challenged me to do the same challenge… rolling the longest coil possible out of one pound of clay! So I did…

And it was going pretty well… until I got a little “greedy” with just a few seconds left…
and a piece of it broke off and didn’t count in my final measurement. All in all,
still a respectable showing in the Coil Rolling Challenge!!!


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