Trying my hand at …. pottery

Maheshie my room mate and colleague is working with a women’s cooperative who make and sell ceramics.  She was keen to better understand the process and through a friend of a friend (you know how it goes), she got the name of a potter who runs small classes in pottery.  I thought why not!  I’ll take the class too. And now I am signed up for another 6 classes – I loved it!

Sabine is a Swiss national, came to Sri Lanka 17 years ago for 6 months, fell in love with a Sri Lanka, and stayed.  Now married and two kids later, she does ceramic commissions and also teaches from a small workshop at her house.  A maximum of two students at a time means we have her undivided attention, and boy did we need it.

Who knew the placing of your arms and hands, as well as the pressure applied with fingers is what makes all the difference to a lump of clay spinning on a turn wheel?  And who knew people like ourselves have a latent creativity itching to be liberated?  It was a very fun class.

The turning wheel station. Sit spread-eagled, right foot on the pedal to control the speed of the turning wheel, water and clay at the ready

The turning wheel station. Sit spread-eagled, right foot on the pedal to control the speed of the turning wheel, water and clay at the ready

I missed taking a photo where a lump of clay is splodged on the wheel and we used our hands to make a smooth dome. Then we used our index finger to create the hole in the centre of the bowl as the wheel spun. This step shows how using our fingers and applying a little pressure, the clay is gently urged upwards to make the side of the bowl.

I missed taking a photo of the step where a lump of clay is splodged on the wheel and we use our hands to make a smooth dome. We then used our index finger to create the hole in the centre of the bowl as the wheel spun. No photo of that either!  This next step shows how using our fingers and applying a little pressure, the clay is gently urged upwards to make the side of the bowl.

This step cleans up the bowl a little bit, removing obvious finger marks and leveling out the clay. Notice the wheel is still spinning, controlled by Sabine's foot.

This step cleans up the bowl a little bit, removing obvious finger marks and leveling out the clay. Notice the wheel is still spinning, controlled by Sabine’s foot.

Using a scrapper-like tool, the base of the bowl is trimmed to make it easier to cut through it with the wire. The wheel is still spinning!

Using a scrapper-like tool, the base of the bowl is trimmed to make it easier to cut through it with the wire. The wheel is still spinning!

Using a wire, the bowl is spliced off the whee. But before you do that, turn off the spinning wheel - nearly learned the hard way what would happen if the wheel continued to spin while cutting!n

Using a wire, the bowl is spliced off the whee. But before you do that, turn off the spinning wheel – nearly learned the hard way what would happen if the wheel continued to spin while cutting!n

Once cut, removing the bowl from the wheel takes confidence, decisiveness and being very gentle ..... the latter is a trait I am not well known for,

Once cut, removing the bowl from the wheel takes confidence, decisiveness and being very gentle ….. the latter is a trait I am not well known for.

The results of my work! The middle one was my first attempt and is a flower pot (that's my story and I am sticking to it. I made the small plate second and the bowl on the right third 0 they did not turn out too bad!

The results of my work! The middle one was my first attempt and is a flower pot (that’s my story and I am sticking to it. I made the small plate second and the bowl on the right third 0 they did not turn out too bad!

Next step is to leave them dry before we return to decorate them.  Sabine will put them on a kiln before Christmas – I wonder who will be a lucky recipient of my creativitiy – ha ha!

In later classes, I am keen to learn how to use moulds to make mugs and the like, and also do some free-form pieces.  This is just an introductory course so I’ll get a taste of everything.

I can’t promise any commissions just yet!

About Kate Coffey

After 25+ years in the investment management industry, I packed in my job and spent 2014 living and working in Nepal and Bangladesh, and visited some other places in between. It took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and it's people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Sanga foothills. Since 2014, I have continued my warm relationship with SIRC and worked closely with my friends there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes to date. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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2 Responses to Trying my hand at …. pottery

  1. lalastudios says:

    Thanks Kate. Loved seeing the process, and products! Very beautiful. Looks like you’re a natural and will soon be showing and selling in a small island village off the West Coast 😉 Can’t wait to see the finished products. Have fun with the painting. Take care my artist friend. xoxo

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