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

So excited to be starting off the THIRD “season” of my pottery challenges & contests class….
THE GREAT LILLSTREET THROWDOWN!

We started with introductions, explained a few overviews & expectations of the class. A couple of my students are returning to the Throwdown from previous “seasons”… so it couldn’t have been too tough if they’ve come back for more, right???

Then I broke out the first challenge… as they were tasked with throwing their “best” 3-pound serving bowl. They were told what parameters we would be looking for… even wall thickness, no heavy bottoms, nicely curved interior, no “beginner’s ledge” inside, and a purposeful rim. They had 30 minutes to work on their bowl… which is sometimes tough when you have “too much time” to overthink & overwork the piece. Throwing the 3-pound bowl was tough for some as we’ve all been on a long holiday break… and this was their very first thrown piece since we all left classes before Christmas!

When they had all finished their bowls, we gathered at the table to discuss & critique them. We looked at the interior curves, the bottom “foot” areas, and the ways some people took it a step further and started decorating their bowls already… even though this was a “throwing” challenge, and not a “decorating” challenge!

They thought we were choosing the winner… but I never told them that this was going to be in a “judged” challenge! So then I pulled out another envelope that told them there was a twist and another challenge. And that was that they now needed to throw another 3-pound bowl to MATCH their first one! They had shown me that they could make nice bowls… now they just needed to do it AGAIN!!!

There was a lot of measuring with calipers and visually comparing them as they were trying their best to match their second bowl to their first.

After 45 minutes, they brought their matching bowls to the table where we proceeded to discuss and critique. We talked about how they matched… how some of them didn’t in some places… and overall they all did AMAZING!!!

It was going to be pretty tough to pick the winner… so we got very nit-picky pretty quick to pick between the Top Three. When they’re all so good, it comes down to the finest of details. There were rulers, calipers and a LOT of squatting-down profile viewings!

Huge congrats to Jacob & Dana for coming in first & second in our very first Throwdown Challenge!!!

But we weren’t REALLY done yet… the final challenge was that they needed to choose their “favorite” of their own two bowls… and then pass it over three places to the right. They now had one of their own, and one of another student’s! Their week-long challenge is that they need to do their best trimming & refining of both bowls before the next class!

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