Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Early Years: Ceramics

I did a lot of crafting before college - probably more than I have since - but I don't think I have any pictures of that stuff, or any of the stuff. Actually, that's not true. I've got a heap of marbled paper somewhere and I'm sure I kept a painted silk scarf or two. Nevertheless, I  have no photos so I'll talk about my first love: pottery.

When I was about 8 years old, I remember visiting some arts center with my mom and seeing someone making pottery on a wheel. I was completely taken with the idea and from then on, every single summer I took ceramics classes in the hope that I would be taught how to use a pottery wheel. I never was; we'd make coil pots or little sculptures or whatever, and I was endlessly disappointed.

In high school, the art class had pottery wheels, and I signed up for after-school ceramics because the brochure SAID we'd learn to use the wheel. On the first day the teacher said he wasn't going to teach us how to use the wheel because it was too hard. We made coil pots and mugs out of slabs.

In CEGEP (this is a Quebec post-secondary school thing, see here for an explanation) I enrolled in the Fine Arts program and knew that my school had a ceramics program. When the time came to choose classes, I found out that ceramics was qualified as a "creative art" whereas I was in "fine arts" so I couldn't take ceramics as one of my focus classes, nor could I take it as a complementary because it wasn't "opposite" enough. I was not allowed to take it at all. This was getting ridiculous.

Fortunately at this point I was 16 years old so was no longer restricted to kids' arts programs, and my mother signed me up for an adult community education ceramics program. WHEELTHROWING, specifically. I finally learned to use the dang wheel, and back at school I talked to the ceramics teacher who allowed me to use the facilities even though I wasn't in any of the classes. I liked making pots. It never got any more complex than that, so when I went on to actual real art school for college, I didn't do so well in my ceramics classes because I just liked making stuff, but wasn't really motivated to become a super production potter, or to make some artistic statement, or to put in as many hours as my teacher would have liked... He never liked me very much, and I never did very well.

We got a new teacher in my last semester and she was awesome, and enthusiastic and supportive about everyone's work. Strangely this caused me to enjoy my work more and put more effort into it, and I made some pretty nice stuff, if I do say so myself. I still have some of it. I also made a lot of crap, because I was still kind of lazy and preferred to spend my free time playing video games, but... now I work in video game development, so everything turned out well, I guess?

Anyway, here are some pictures of my older ceramic pieces... all from my last semester in college. They're all earthenware with maiolica glaze.

My favourite piece. It's got a bit of fake ash glaze on it as well as the maiolica.

One of the first successful pieces, and the first with these patterns.
I think I'd read that it was never acceptable to paint stars on pottery.
I made this cream and sugar set during a guest artist workshop. I still use the sugarbowl.


  1. I have always loved your pottery and my heart nearly shattered into as many pieces as the mug you made me did long ago. I adored that mug and used it all the time. So sad.

    I love that teapot, even before my obsession with all things starred. ;)

  2. I still have the mug you gave me way back when in Halifax! :)

  3. Wow, what did the mugs look like? I never made many of them...

  4. Mine was purple-y and in the best shape. Hmm. I have a store-bought mug that reminds me of the shape, I'll have to snap a photo for you. :)