With dreams of being a fashion designer at age ten, I have always seen myself as artistically inclined. Although my interests moved from clothing design, to colored pencils, and then to paint, I always expressed myself through the visual arts. Ambitious as always, I strayed away from my comfort with painting and took Wheel Thrown Ceramics as my first art course in college. Knowing my intimate relationship with painting, I assumed ceramics would come to me naturally; I underestimated the power of the wheel.
The first day of class was simple. We were instructed on setting up our stations, centering the clay on the wheel (so it doesn't fly across the room), and clean up. With a casual and instructive first day, I was excited to return to class that next Wednesday to get a step by step tutorial of throwing. As I should have known, there is no step by step guide to creating great art. I was told by my instructor that often times “you just have know the feeling of what you’re doing is correct,” forcing me to question my confidence.
For the first week everything I threw on the wheel looked as if it was a first grade Mother’s Day present. I would pull the clay too hard on one side and create a rendition of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I would overcompensate when creating a shallow bottom and turn a lovely bowl into a strainer (with only one large hole at the base). As I rushed to meet deadlines, my fast pace and my nerves continuously affected the outcomes of my pieces; I was always tense and sweating at the wheel.
I began to view myself as a lesser artist. My thought when applying to be in Wheel Thrown Ceramics was to become a more versatile artist, appreciative of all mediums. After repeated defeat, I dreaded going to class. I complained about my hands cramping, my clothes getting covered in clay, and the mess I always had to clean up. However, when seeing everyone else in my class slowly improve in their techniques, I was inspired.
I began to go to the studio every day for at least an hour. I must have demolished over a hundred bowls, cups, and pitchers, but I began to regain my confidence. Now, I actually enjoy destroying a piece because it helps me understand what I can do better the next time. Even my instructor noticed my change in attitude, commenting “I’m glad you’re actually having fun,” which I definitely was.
So, if you enjoy drying out the skin on your hands, destroying hours of work, bringing home over 20 ceramics pieces in one day at the end of the term, becoming educated in a new field, and most importantly developing originality and artwork to be proud of, take Wheel Thrown Ceramics.