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New here, and playing with clay.

Posted by Jillofall (My Page) on
Wed, May 11, 05 at 17:18

Greetings! I've been wandering around the garden web forum since I'm playing with the yard a lot this time of year, but I also like to play with clay. I've been taking classes at a local art school open to the public, so they let non-artists play. I love clay sculpture and just finished a class in wheel throwing. Clay is a wonderful thing! My problem, however, is that I have learned to shape the clay, and which buckets to dip it in for which colors. The staff provides the clay, the kilning, and the glaze mixes. I feel like I'm only getting a taste of clay work. Is this standard? Do I just have to get books and teach myself if I want to learn more? I hate to go too far if I have to invest in a kiln in order to teach myself. Any advice for a clay shaper wanting more?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: New here, and playing with clay.

Hi Jill,

You don't have to buy a kiln... I get mine fired at a local, "paint your own pottery" place. It's absurd because I actually have a kiln but I have no idea how to use it :)

Can you post some pictures of your work?

RE: New here, and playing with clay.

Hi Jill and Candy,

Candy has responded to my hello out there message. At least there are 3 of us now.

If you check out my page you will see a link to my web site and some of my work. I have been working with clay now for about 8 years and am still learning lots and lots. I do not throw, I really don't like it. All of my work is handbuildt. I have my own kiln and studio in my home, but also take classes at a local clay studio. Check it out
They have a great program the biggest advantage is being around other people and learning from them. I learn as much from the students as the teachers.

I was an art teacher until 3 years ago so now the clay gets much more of my time.

Jill I have learned so much from books as well as others. I go to the library or buy the books. Many of which are used. I to end up having about half of my work fired at the clay center. I know that you can also have work fired at a local studio and a clay store so check if there are any around.

I bought a used kiln and it didn't have instructions so I checked around and found a place to get a manual for it. It was fairly easy to figure out. Getting the wiring put in was the slow part. Candy if you still need to have yours wired up make sure you get someone that knows what they are doing the first electricion we hired didn't use a big enough wire and the plug fused to the outlet. The same company sent out a different electricion and re-did it with the right size wire and outlet.

I would love to see some of your work (both of you).


RE: New here, and playing with clay.

I've been working with clay (throwing, tile making, mosaic, and now hand building) for several years. I've found that I learn the most by talking to the other people working in the studio where I take classes ( When I have a new idea for something, there is almost always someone who has done something similar and can offer advice on what NOT to do.

experimentation plays a big part in any artform, so unless you have a specific technique you want to learn, you just need to dig in! books and instructors are great for learning new techniques.

I have not spent a lot of time learning kiln techniques, but I think if I wanted to take that next step, i'd sign up for a workshop at the clay studio. Of course, thats for high fire gas kiln firing. I think for a home electric kiln, there's probably less technical stuff to know, and more glazing chemistry to learn if you want to do anything really experimentational.

RE: New here, and playing with clay.

Thanks for your replies. I will try to get some pictures. Most of my favorite stuff is relief sculpture. It seems I give a lot away without getting pictures which is not good! I was looking at some of the electric kilns, but I think there is at least one place in town (Colorado Springs) where you can take stuff to fire. For now I guess I'll just keep signing up for classes. The teachers are very helpful and you are right, GardeninginPhilly, the students also help. I sure try to offer any help I can. -Jill

RE: New here, and playing with clay.

Hi Jill,
Check if there are any pottery classes at any colleges near you. This is how I got into pottery, I was looking for an elective during college. It was a great way to learn the basics & beyond. Our teacher was a very talented potter. We got to try out lots of stuff includintg raku & pit firing. I was just getting decent at throwing when I got too busy to take any more classes, so I lost access to the equipment. It's been about 10 years & I really miss it. I think I need to follow my own advice and find some classes where I now live!

RE: New here, and playing with clay.

Thanks, all. I still haven't got the pictures I promised. Too much to do this time of year. But it sounds like the classes at the local art center are still the best way for me to learn and have access to equipment. There is a new instructor offering a clay sculpture class starting in July, so maybe I'll sign up for that. When/if I ever get those pictures, I'll post them. --Kris

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