Arts and entertainment have never been career directions that I’ve wanted to pursue. That being said, I have always enjoyed expressing my creativity through music and constructive arts in my free time. I took piano lessons for between 10 and 11 years then sang in my high school’s Acapella Choir as a tenor to enjoy my musical side. During my sophomore year I decided to take a class that would allow me to work with my hands and physically construct things. I considered taking photography, though it was not as hands on as my other options, metalworking and ceramics. I felt at the time that ceramics would be the most interesting, and that I would learn the most in it, of the three. I had also taken an art class in middle school in which we learned drawing techniques and clay forming methods which influenced my decision. I crafted two clay Easter Island heads in that middle school class, whose level of detail I desired to surpass with my projects in high school ceramics.
We were assigned a few projects expecting different styles of pots, one of which was formed from strings of clay. I still have on display in my room the lidded box project which included a handle and unique designs on each side face of the box. There are two main stages of design in ceramics work that contribute to the impression that the piece will give. After the building stage, where clay is used to form the structure, and after the structure is fired to solidify it and remove water, glazes are often selected to coat a piece’s surface in a smooth glasslike colored film.
I played around with glaze combinations to achieve certain effects, the most interesting of which showed up in the butter plate that I gave my mom on Mother’s Day, the tree on my box project, and the rim on my coiled clay pot. It took a few attempts when experimenting with some of my projects to achieve the surface finish that I had sought. A good number of combinations of glazes and their outcomes had been documented in my class on a diagram on the wall, helping with the selection process. I usually tried to replicate one of the known combinations, but if the ratio and total amount of glaze applied to the piece were far enough from the proportions used in the original documented piece, it often wouldn’t produce the same effect. Luckily, to some extent, ceramic pieces can be re-fired with different glazes applied on top for a new result.
I learned quite a bit in ceramics about the mechanics of wet and dry clay, forming methods, attaching and blending methods, pattern making and scoring clay, as well as the different types of clays and firing techniques that can implemented to achieve a unique final product.