[Clayart] hand building

mel jacobson melpots at mail.com
Sun Jan 16 16:29:21 UTC 2022

my discussion on hand building was, and is a reaction
to those that work at home, small kiln, and hand build their work
in clay. It is often overlooked.  Hobby potter sort of thing.

My feeling is that any technique can become very complex and
difficult to make with grace.  Clay is just very hard to control
and those that do it....are to be honored.

It looks so easy to make a slab box..."nothing to it", well until
you want to make one...cracks, etc. It is complex construction.
And, the clay body has to be "dead on right".

I have always felt that throwing should be started at about 14 years
old.  Before that, it is just mess'n.  Once kids learn to drive cars
and other forms of transportation and sports, their hand eye skills come together
pretty fast. Of course girls are about two years ahead of boys.

My entire life as a teacher was 14-18 year olds. They loved the wheel, but often
tired of it, and turned to more complex techniques.  Cutting pots in half, re-shaping
pots, combination of form all became a natural progression. Then add size and scale
and things got moving along fast.  But the realization that just your hands and a lump
of clay was complex.

The big problem with teaching smaller kids is that they get a half a pound of clay...beat
it on the table and make a snake pot that cracks on drying.  Or best of all, a horse with
legs the thickness of toothpicks. The horse never makes it to the kiln.

When adults feel the centering and lift and stretch of clay a great "moment" of learning takes place. That
transfers to all sorts of clay technique.

But so much of learning clay technique goes back to the teacher.  My line for years..."Mel, I cannot throw, my hands are
weak or something".  My reply is always the same..."No, you had a crappy teacher".  It is an adult physics
problem with your hands, feelings and sense of rhythm. It is like the bike...balance, you "catch it".  once caught
it is lifelong.

I know that many of you can teach good technique to adults. But a great deal of hand building is taught
as funny little pots and animals.  Some of the greatest pots every made where "hand built".

website: www.melpots.com

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