Notes on Ceramics

Today, I attended my third ceramics class. This course is held through the city I live in at our community center. I don’t think a lot of people know that cities offer very reasonably priced classes for adults to continue their educations and start new hobbies. It’s an excellent opportunity to try something new and to surround yourself with others who are lifelong learners.

In the previous class, we made stamps that can be used to adorn our work. In the first photo below, you’ll see that I created two stamps – one of a pumpkin (for the upcoming season), and one of my initials (backwards so they will look correct when stamped on). These have already been fired in the kiln after drying out. I am using a 25 lb. block of sandstone (cone 06-04).

The second and third photo show a box I created today. The lid is set on top of the box for drying, and I put some paper towel between the lid and base to protect my work. For this box, I measured and cut two squares for the lid and the base measuring 4 inches by 4 inches. Then I cut four sides measuring 2 inches by 4 inches.

I brought the four sides of the box together by cutting the adjoining edges of my side pieces at 45 degree angles so that they would appear more seamless. You’ll see that I also smoothed out the square corners and made them a bit more rounded. To bring clay together, I used scoring. This means cutting small lines into the clay on both pieces that you are bringing together. I did not use a slip (wet clay used as glue) through any of the process.

ceramic stamps     

This ceramics class has been exceedingly fun so far. It has required me to buckle down and give full attention to reconfiguring the piece of clay before me. It’s a great break away from my phone and I found that my head cleared sufficiently and I was able to enjoy the process of creating without anxiety. Like I mentioned in my recent previous blog post, it’s sometimes difficult in this society to invest in hobbies that we don’t expect to have monetary return on. We’ve been taught to invest in continued education – but only if it has something to do with our line of work, we’re retired, or it seems to hold some returned value (popularly weight loss or career transition).

I have always invested in continued education. After college, I signed up for improv classes in Sacramento and performed in front of audiences. Then I enrolled in a six month coding bootcamp also in Sacramento (although this was partly for the purpose of monetary return). After that, I attended a writer’s workshop in Pasadena. Now I’m taking ceramics. And next weekend, I’ll be learning Reiki.

I’m enjoying a life of exploration. If I can’t travel across Europe, at least I can make it to the local community center and play with some clay. If I feel like I need more mental stimulation, I can take a new course or try a new hobby. These things keep me interested in the world around me because they encourage me to pay attention to a bit more than my professional and daily mundane life. So I’ll continue to be a lifelong learner.