Molding

You can make an earthenware slip. As for pros and cons I find earthenware to be far too messy in any application.

I just hate that it stains everything and it will probably stain your mold.

Though the benefit of it over earthenware is it usually has a low vitrification which means that it becomes more waterproof at lower temperature due to iron content.

So yeah, it’ll be safe either way.

The only time it could be potentially “Dangerous” is if there is a non-food safe glaze in your studio, which is doubtful but it’s always good to check.

You don’t want poisons leaching into your food.

Also, just for future reference for vessels and glazes: Make sure the glaze fits your clay body. Crazing can be a nice effect but can make it impossible to clean. The same goes for crawling glazes. To be fair I am drinking out of a coffee cup with a shino glaze inside, and I am still alive!

I’ve made molds a thousand times but still forget things.

I would make a mold with four to six pints so you can make them in batches and the thicknesses will all be the same in the batch. Get a big plastic tub to pour the plaster in, to save the trouble of making kottle boards for what is probably going to be a one off for you.

Remember you don’t have to use an actual pint glass – any cylinder could work. So buy cheap plastic cups for your original. If there is printing on the bottom or other marks, you could try sanding them off, or filling them in with clay so you don’t have the manufacturer marks on the bottom.

Wear a respirator and or work outdoors when you mix the plaster. Don’t want the dust getting in the clay studio.

Conflict Mitigation

I’ve had a long standing policy of not interfering unless are children are actually in danger. It has worked out well so far, since they have figured out how to communicate clearly.

This is between children.

What is bad communciation is when it is not appropriate. You would not teach your daughter to tell the kid, “No thank you.”

I hate that.

I saw it a lot with toddlers where one child hits another, the victim is taught to say, “No thank you,” as though the aggressor offered him a cookie. I say, say “No” or “I don’t like that” or whatever in a strong voice, but don’t thank the offender.

They haven’t done anything nice.

I have seen some incidents where other parents react to other peoples kids.

I don’t think a rise should be given out of either parties parents. I feel it horrible to berade a parent while their child is watching. Also the people yelling at the other parent in front of their kid.

Horible to watch and see the reaction of their kids afterwards. I think to watch your childs reaction to the issue. Then give a corrective response for the child to work on next time. Because there always is a next time. I feel that kids need to learn how to react on their own.

Not based on someone elses reaction to the problem. If there is a need I think there should be a calm confrontation to the other childs parents about their child. Not to the child that is causing the problem because maybe that child could be scarred forever from confrontation.

Adults can be intimidating to children.

Learning By Doing

Have a specific form in mind when you weigh your clay and sit down at the wheel, and work toward that.

Try to make 6 inch cylinders from one pound of clay. Realistically you’re not going to do it (it’s not easy, I couldn’t probably do it consistently) But it gives you a goal. You want even pulls and consistent thickness the whole way through.

Make 10/20/50/100 whatever, just make them. You can recycle clay so you only lose whatever Slip you toss from your bucket. Wedge yourself ten balls of clay to start all the same weight and try to make each cylinder as tall and consistently thin as you can, even if it eventually collapses.

Deliberately vary your technique. After throwing each piece, assess where your shortcomings are (too thick at the base? rim is too thin? bowl slumped?) and make a plan for improving on the next piece. Just repeating the same process over and over without changing anything won’t help you improve.

Do not spend too much time agonizing over every single piece at the wheel. If you mess it up, spend a couple minutes trying to fix it (cut off a wobbly rim with the needle tool, try to bring back a slumped or warped pot), but don’t sit there for an hour playing with a messed up piece of clay that’s warped, water saturated, and off-center. Cut it off, cut it in half, and work on doing better with the next piece. This is one place I see people really get stuck at my studio.

Beginners will come in and throw for 15 minutes, mess something up, and then they may spend their remaining 2 hours 45 minutes trying to fix one piece of clay.

You can also watch the excellent Hsin Chuen Lin, other YouTube channels to watch are Ingleton Pottery, Simon Leach, and Bill van Gilder.

If you’re looking to improve quickly, the most important thing is to throw as much as possible. Prepare as many balls of clay as you think you can throw in one sitting, wrap them up in plastic, get on the wheel and throw. Like everyone else says, cylinders are a good place to start.

Clary Illian’s “A Potter’s Workbook” might be a good book to look & work through. It covers a lot of the basics of form.

Things to try/think about while throwing:

  1. Different styles of placing the clay on the wheel (a perfect sphere, an awkward lump, flat bottom or pointed bottom, sealing the edge with water vs not, pounding it onto the wheel)
  2. Different styles of centering (keep an eye out for how other people center)
  3. Different styles of opening (thumbs or fingers, 2 handed or 1 handed, with a fist, outwards or inwards, starting at different heights)
  4. Different ways to pull (different fingers, fingers tips, knuckles, using a sponge or shammy, different angles, 1 handed [on the first pull], locking your hands together vs keeping them separate)
  5. Keeping your movements steady (locking your elbow to your torso or pressing it into your thigh)
  6. Sitting different distances from the wheel (I like to be as close as possible because it helps me keep my hands steady)
  7. Pulling large amounts of clay (getting >50% of your height on your first pull)
  8. Changing your wheel speed
  9. Different bottoms (generally curved for bowls/plates, and flat for cylinders)
  10. Different styles of compressing the bottom (using a rib or your fingers, crossing the center as you’re compressing, going outwards to inwards or vice versa)
  11. Different styles of compressing the rim (using the edge of your fingers, using a sponge, using the space in between two fingers, using a rib, using a shammy)
  12. Using a rib to smooth the sides vs using your fingers
  13. Pulling as high as you can
  14. Intentionally creating an uneven wall (e.g. leaving extra clay at half height)
  15. Playing with the lip (flaring it out, collaring it in, folding/rolling it over, playing around with the way its beveled, making it thinner/thicker)
  16. Different styles of foot (vertical, cut inwards vs outwards)
  17. Different moisture contents of clay
  18. Different thicknesses of the bottom

Small Studio Pottery

Some poeple love pottery so much they will do it in very small spaces. Apartments for example. But is this reasonable?

The recycling process can be very simple.

Slack it all down(soak in water and it breaks down into sludge) and then lay that sludge out to dry. I go for about 1.5 inches thick and smooth it out on plaster boards. No fan or anything on them, outside on the patio or in front of a window of it’s sunny. The plaster boards are about 18x18x2 inches and I raise them up on two pieces of wood so that the air circulates all around. This is important because the plaster sucks up the water and has to have a way to get rid of it too. Your carpet is not where you want it. When it’s very plastic it will roll right up into a bumpy log full of air bubbles. From here you can wedge it back into a usable consistency. In a rush I also have a light I got from Lowe’s that pumps out heat and hangs above it. I use this to dry my pieces sometimes as well though I hang it much further away.

You can wedge on a plaster slab, wedge on the wheel or even on a piece of smooth wood. I prefer wedging on plaster covered with a canvas cloth but cloth holds clay dust well so I mostly wedge the first 80% of it on a big piece of wood and the rest on the wheel as I cone up and down.

I know a potter who had her pottery studio in her apartment.

It can get messy and requires a lot of cleaning everyday. Yup, everyday. Otherwise the dust goes everywhere. She even had a kiln and stuff and it was no problem at all.

We would let the used clay settle down at the bottom of buckets and throw the water in the sink. The clay we would let dry and throw away in regular trash. When we were glazing, all doors were closed, everything covered and we were using masks, but we were using a spray gun. If you just dip, that would be easier. If you wanted a kiln, that’s another story but if you just want to make the things and fire them elsewhere, I don’t see why there should be any problems.

Just consider that carrying your greenware to a different place will probably lead to some breakage along the way.

There Is More To It Than That

Gender norms are shifting pretty heavily. Sixty years ago, it seemed natural that mothers provided for emotional needs while fathers provided for physical needs.

Many mothers cut off from wider society and so many fathers left unable to connect with their children and then their children growing up thinking that this is normal.

It’s wrong.

Most people turned out fine under that system; it’s not inherently bad. It’s more problematic in countries that place a lot of emphasis on equality, though, since saying that women HAVE to stay at home and be mothers while men HAVE to go out and be breadwinners flies in the face of the idea of equality. So the culture has shifted over time.

There’s increasing acceptance of working mothers and stay-at-home fathers, and increasing expectations that fathers will help provide for the emotional needs of their children.

It’s still not equal by any means; women are still expected to provide for emotional needs more and men are still expected to provide for physical needs more. But there’s MUCH more acceptance of working mothers in particular, and I do think there’s more of an expectation that fathers will be involved in the emotional well-being of their children. But it’s not all the way there, and our history is a big part of that.

If it bothers you, all you can really do is work towards equality in your own relationships and join advocacy groups that fight the social systems that prevent further change (e.g. limited paid maternity leave for mothers, little or no paid paternity leave for fathers).

Some women think that popping out some kids at 20 years old makes them an adult and makes them special and gives meaning to their lives.

And they’re happy and content just to “be a mother” and people around them echo that sentiment and they all think that being a mother is just the greatest accomplishment for a woman ever. And while they’re patting each other on the back over their motherhoods, their little shit kids are off wiping their boogers on somebody else’s pants in the other room.

People ought not to place value simply on “motherhood.”

On “being a mom.” The value should be placed on being a good mom. On raising a good kid. On raising a smart kid. On raising a compassionate kid.

And all these same values should be equally placed on fathers. It should be seen as a joint role – the role of “good parent” – that both mother and father (or any mix thereof) take equally.

That society respects and expects of both parents, regardless of gender, equally.