Tag: clay

How to Teach Yourself Pottery Making- Self-Taught vs Self-Directed

How to Teach Yourself Pottery Making- Self-Taught vs Self-Directed

 

What an amazing pottery journey this has been!
January 1, 2011 is the date I consider to be the beginning of my “Hobby Potter” life. It’s when I got serious about clay and began creating YouTube videos to “direct myself” (learn) pottery making and ceramics. 2018 marks 7 YEARS ! Along the way I’ve made some beautiful friendships, learned a lot (with still more to be learned) and have tremendously enjoyed this clay journey!

Self-Taught vs Self-Directed:  Before sharing the process I use to grow in my pottery practice, I feel the need to clarify some terminology. “Self Taught” means you had no help what-so-ever from others, and learned techniques completely on your own. “Self-Directed” means you charted your own course of learning and used resources from professionals to learn the craft. Since I’ve never officially taken a pottery class and I learned primarily through YouTube videos, books and suggestions/critiques from fellow potters who I see as mentors, I’m a Self-Directed potter!

From time to time I get asked this question?
“”How did you teach yourself to make pottery?” or “How do you know what you want to make?”  Here is the formula I use and still follow that helps me learn and improve my skills:

 

  1. Choose Projects To Help You Learn a Specific Technique or Skill (such as throwing a cup, handbuilding a pitcher, texturing, mixing glazes…etc.). Books are great, but it’s also crucial to see live demonstrations. There are some amazing teachers out there and even actual online pottery classes (ClayShare with Jessica Putnam-Phillips) that can guide you.  Being in community with other potters and getting live critiques will also help you improve more quickly.
  2. Set a Goal with Actionable Steps: I chose projects to accomplish a task: (365 Days of Clay Cups, or  30 Bowls, 30 Days, 30 Techniques or 1lb of Clay 25 Ways). This helped me to compartmentalize my learning experiences and not feel like I was all over the place. (Example, I wanted to learn to throw on the pottery wheel with small cracks of time. So I decided to throw one cup a day for an entire year. It gave me a goal and also assured enough repetition in order to grow.)
  3. Figure out a way to keep repetitive practice fun…this is HUGE on my list! It’s got to be fun if it’s going to get done! (I’m no fan of doing the same thing twice, but I do understand that I can only improve with repetitious efforts). How did I get it done?  The 365 Day cup project allowed me to throw on the pottery wheel everyday, but I made every cup look different so it didn’t feel repetitious.
  4. Be accountable to somebody: (pottery group, Facebook friends, the YouTube verse ;). When I had no one around me that worked with clay, I started my Hobby Potter YouTube Channel  to create a community where I had none.
  5. Share What You’ve Learned:  My videos are not “instructional” and were never meant to be, but hopefully they are “educational” in the sense that  other newbie potters can see another newbie pottery taking chances. If what I’m personally learning is shareable (good or bad) it becomes a reference of realistic application to someone in the learning process.

    Learning & Planning Process

Without the ability to be in a classroom setting and gleaning from those sitting around you, “real deal” videos can be helpful to beginners who might become discouraged if a project doesn’t turn out “picture perfect”.  Some of my biggest disasters go into the kiln and come out as some of my greatest successes. I’ve realized no matter how long I’m into clay, the exciting mystery of a kiln opening is like Christmas, because you never know what can happen!

I would encourage everyone looking to grow in pottery go for it! Figure out what you want to learn, embrace the journey and relax your way through!

2018 is a brand new year of discovery! Let’s get out there and enjoy the earth (as the mud on our hands 😉

Blessings!

Tammy Jo

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A Paradigm Shift! – A New Direction!

Paradigm Shift“A fundamental change in approach or underlying assumption”

I’ve spent the last 2 days trying to create a blog post to share the BIG changes I’ll be venturing into with my ceramic art journey! Pages upon pages were filled with excited chatter describing how it all came to together, why I’m making the changes and also how special this move is going to be for me. Definitely more information than you’d want to read (ha, ha)! So here is my final attempt at stripping it all down (still pretty lengthy) to give you the gist of this artistic renovation.

“You are under no obligation to be the same person you were 5 minutes ago!”
~ Unknown

Over the past year I’ve taken on clay projects that were substantially more personal and meaningful to me (such as my daughter’s wedding, and a mini-luminary series called “Brokenly Beautiful”). Not necessarily grand in scale for “publicity exposure”, but most definitely pivotal to me in terms of expressive pieces that touched my heart, and the hearts of others.

These experiences helped me discover that in order for my continued clay journey to remain personally fulfilling, I needed to be creating both art and functional pieces which resonated deeper emotional purpose. Something a little more closely in line with my value system. It had to feel important!

A while back my daughter asked me to take the Myers & Briggs personality styles test online. We both laughed  when we discovered how accurate it pegged me! I am what they call an ENFP personality,  Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving. Why is this significant and why bring it up now? Because it brought home how closely my “purpose” was triggering me to make changes I’d been contemplating to keep my creative spirit alive!

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”        –Maya Angelou

I started asking myself, “What if I could create something that would touch another person’s heart? Could I help them heal a hurt, find confidence, feel encouraged or just give someone a laugh to start their day?” These thoughts kept flooding my mind and would give me a jolt of adrenaline, then at the same time an incredible feeling of peace. These questions also produced so many creative ideas my journal is exploding! Whether through my own words or through a piece of pottery, sharing these concepts in my art feels like my paradigm shift .  So here it is!

Coming March 1, 2017 
“Every Day Pottery with an Extraordinary Message”

EXPRESSives TM is an inspirational line of handmade ceramics combined with uplifting messages of strength, truth and healing! Through the use of everyday pottery, these themes of hope give you daily “brain food”…in a 3D way!

“Your life is an expression of what you think and what you believe”!

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ex.pressive
  1.  to express emotion through words or actions


EXPRESSives
 , will be my new handmade product line of functional-ware that will be “wrapped in words” expressing positive, uplifting emotional messages. Inspired by the gratitude cup (#365) from the “365 Days of Clay Cups” project, each piece will be unique and different, in form and color, but cohesive in the style of “Perfectly Imperfect”. I’ll be sharing the inspiration behind each themed work and hopefully be able to share a bit of my heart in each piece!

Be expecting to see progress and changes near the end of February and the listing of the initial releases in my store on March 1st! I’ll keep y’all updated throughout the month of February with progress updates on social media with an updated video!

A little nervous with excitement …but always in a good way!

Warm Blessings to All!

~ Tammy Jo

 

Episode 3 – It’s A Clay Party! – Back In the Studio…Trimming Bowls & Lots of Wash Glazing

Episode 3 – It’s A Clay Party! – Back In the Studio…Trimming Bowls & Lots of Wash Glazing

Back for another week inside & outside the pottery studio and I’m journaling my projects, progress and learning experiences (both the good & bad)!

This Weeks Video
2016 Hobby Potter Weekly – Season 2 – Episode #3 (8-6-16):

– A Clay Party! : The week started of great as I ventured outside my studio for a fun ceramic adventure at the “Chartreuse Muse Art Gallery” in Modesto, CA. I celebrated the birthday of my artist friend Nicole Slater, along with her girlfriends, by enjoying a class on building luminaries (wonderfully taught by Ceramic Artist & Co-Owner of the gallery Sandra Veneman)!  Being surrounded by other people all chatting and playing with clay together was definitely  a new exciting experience! I got so immersed in what other people were making I actually forgot to get a posterity photo of what I made(I’ll share it when it’s finished! 🙂  I learned a new perspective on hand-building cylinders and loved the fact I had to get creative without all my usual studio tools!  I’d recommend it for everyone!

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On the Wheel – Trimming & Marble Textures:  The bowls made in last week’s episode needed a trim, so I jumped on the pottery wheel to finish things up. They did get a little more dry than I like, but was still able to trim. This brown stoneware reclaimed clay is amazing for special effects! Because it was reclaimed using remnants of the previously pugged white stoneware and also had some sculpture clay thrown in, the trimming results are always unique. With the added chunks of white clay, it trims out to an interesting marbled texture. Sadly it’s 15 pound away from extinction as I’ve run out and there is no way to recreate this formula exactly. Thankful and excited about these bowls.

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–  Glazing & Testing: Opened the bisque load of projects worked on in past episodes. The pieces were low fired (bisque fired) to Cone 04 in my Skutt Kiln – KM1018.

Hobby Potter Weekly - Episode 3 20160804_151024

Actually, If I look at the pieces and glaze work….everything is TESTING. The incense burners and small bowls were a test, the glaze work (combinations of colors and the different wash effects)…were also all tests! I can’t wait to see what new things I’ll learn from the next kiln opening!  Note to self: “Tammy Jo, you need to grind and reapply kiln wash to your shelves…they need some T.L.C (Tender Loving Care)!”

Thanks for watching and please feel free to comment, I’d be happy to hear from you!

Enjoy the clay!

Tammy Jo

 

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2016 Hobby Potter Weekly – Ep. 1 – Hump Molds – Soul Bowls & Gallery “Attempts”

2016 Hobby Potter Weekly – Ep. 1 – Hump Molds – Soul Bowls & Gallery “Attempts”

Hobby Potter Weekly is back! For the remainder of this year (until December 3rd) I’ll be sharing my weekly thoughts, activities and learning experiences in the studio! Blog posts will include a little more insight to my studio meanderings and also serve as a nice printed retrospect.

This weeks video:

….an over view and extra thoughts…

Making a bisque hump mold from a Ceramic Arts Daily video by Kari Radasch

An exciting side view of making a hump mold from a slab of clay!

 I have been avoiding making these hump molds from plaster for a couple years now. Once I saw the video on Youtube I HAD to give it a try and make my own.

Just when I was beginning to doubt purchasing these large plastic tubes at a yard sale, it really came in handy for this project. Kari uses buckets to make her molds (which I will probably do in the future for larger molds). This hollow tube allowed me to open up the bottom of the tube to allow air from both the top and the bottom. This helped with even drying. Super excited this worked out so well!

Creating “Soul Bowls” – A Texture from Israel! 

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 Words can build, encourage, uplift, inspire or remind us…I wanted to make pretty bowls with inspiring reminders with words that are good for the “soul”!

My beautiful friend Anya and her husband made the trip of a lifetime to Israel! As they traveled to significant landmarks,  she would pick up a piece or wood or rock or seed pod if they had amazing textures. When she returned, she unfolded wonderful stories as she presented me with each special treasure. The texture I chose for these “Soul Bowls” was a conifer seed pod, found in the Garden Tomb area of Jerusalem. These are still in the trial stages as far as finished forms, but are simple and pleasing. I want to fine tune these a little more to see if I can make them a part of my new Amazon Handmade shopping area… (excited to have just received the approval notification a couple days)!

Soul Bowls

Carnegie Art Center – Donation & Art Gallery Submission
(Somethings just do go as planned!)

fishoutofwater rainbowfish 20160722_133549

Trying something new is one of my favorite things to do in the studio. So when I request that the Carnegie Art Center was have a Children’s Literature event to celebrate their 100 Year Anniversary, I was thrilled to donate a piece! They were also having a call to artists for submission for the gallery itself so I thought I’d give it a go! So I picked a couple of books I liked when I was little … “A Fish Out of Water” was a favorite I can still hear my father reading to me and Dr. Seuss and I are like kindred spirits!!  “Rainbow Fish”, which is a more recent favorite, is an inspiring story or sharing and beautiful imagery.

So I set out to create wall pieces representative of these books in such a way that others would “know the book by the look”. Long story short I found I’m not a duplicator! It was more tedious than enjoyable to try and duplicate an already established image. Lesson learned …spontaneous inspirations from ideas is more my speed. So these little fishy’s are not on going to be submitted to the gallery, but I will be donating my piece, “In Dr. Seuss’s Kitchen” which was something I made last month (before I knew about this event). They will auction it off at the event and hopefully raise some money for the gallery 😀

Dr. Seuss Ceramic Art
“In Dr. Seuss’s Kitchen”

Well that is it for this weeks Hobby Potter Weekly! Come back to see me next week!

Enjoy the Clay!

Tammy Jo




What are you doing, writing a book?

What are you doing, writing a book?

As a matter of fact…YES! The last time I worked inside my studio was November 9th 2015, but my mind has been on clay and more specifically “cups” ever since!

One of my 50th birthday goals was to put the 365 Day Cup project into a printed book…for posterity sake.  If I’m honest,  I’ve been putting it off for a long time. Since it’s now been 5 years it just seemed like an appropriate time to revisit the journey.

I went back and took all my original journal notes with 700+ photos, supporting people and resources, and yes, I even scanned through every single video! 300 pages and 4 months later, I finally finished the book! It was a long, but lovely, process reliving the roller coaster ride of events with so many life lessons I’ve retained from that experience!

February 16, 2016 it was released to Amazon.com…
My first pottery book!!

“365 Days of Clay Cups, A Cup – A Day – A Year”
A Hobby Potters “Excellent Adventure”
Learning the Art of Pottery”

365 cups book cover JPG
365cover 2-2-2016

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Do real authors ever feel like this?

I’ll tell it to you straight!  You’ll probably laugh at me for this, but just go with me for a second! I’m excited it’s finally complete, but the other part of me isn’t.

The book has only been available online for 2 days, which means no one but me has read it yet (except the couple people looking it over). The simple fact that someone will actually be reading it has me all wound up! It’s like someone finding my diary and reading it to the class! What if I’m the only one that loves it? What if people think it’s ridiculous and a waste of money?  What if there are still typos for goodness sake? I honestly feel like George McFly from the movie Back to the Future…“I don’t think I can take that kind of rejection” LOL!  I know I can’t change my mind and just delete it (like a video) if I decide later to keep these memories to myself. Once it’s printed, it’s permanent, there’s no going back…it’s a done deal! Breathe Tammy Jo, b r e a t h e … you just need to get out there and get back to your clay work!  AND AWAY I GO!

What’s Next?

Photo_2015-03-13_11-21-46_AMThe Stanislaus Family Justice Centers annual “Art of Justice” event to benefit children that have been through crisis. I’ve selected 2 children’s art pieces this year. This is one of my favorite events as I love seeing what local artists create using the recovering children’s art and words as inspiration.

 

365 Cups…in 1 month! For the 5 year anniversary of the project I thought 365 was an appropriate number! I’ve never done consecutive throwing (for fear of boredom setting in). To do this wheel throwing thing like a proper potter, I should do this repetitive throwing thing at least once in my life! There is also another reason….my beautiful daughter Bethany is getting married in October and I need to create 160 “like” cups for her wedding! I’ve never done more than 3 that match, so this should be a true adventure!

10007541_10203324950661889_5699788003374643145_n – Stanislaus Artist Open Studio Tour – April 23-24th! – Last 2 years I’ve so much enjoyed this event! People actually come to my studio where I give them a little tour and we talk about clay. Last year I had every visitor make a ceramic name plate and created a wall piece from them. Turned out great!

 

 March / April issue of Stanislaus Magazine – The fun photo’s I took back in November are going to be in a magazine! Sitting in the doctors office the other day I noticed this month’s issue sitting next to me. So next months visit is going to be so weird LOL!

– Looking for some exciting events to enter pieces in…something new and exciting, something to strive for I think.

Keep life fun I say!

Bless you all until next time! ~ Tammy Jo

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