Photos of the Pottery

Listen, where would you go to purchase a shawl? Or would you order one online and hope the material felt nice? I have been unusually chilly this winter and I feel the need of another easy-on/off cozy layer.

I finally have pictures of the results of my pottery class. First, two group shots [edit for clarity: that is, group shots of all the pieces I made during the class]:


In the second photo you may have noticed a little…er, issue with one of the pots.

When you take a partly-dry item and put it back on the wheel and use a series of graters/scrapers to smooth and shape it, that is called “trimming.” One potential issue with trimming is that you can trim too much, and cut through the item or make it too thin. I was trimming this item when I noticed what looked like a crack near the base. I picked it up—and the entire bottom fell off. I sent it off to be fired anyway, figuring I could still use it as glazing practice, which I did. Now I’m throwing it out.

Another item bound for the trash:

It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the glaze was too thick and it clumped up. Another issue is that the underside of the pot is lower than the bottom of the pot, which I discovered when I took it off the glazing table and a large swipe of glaze stayed behind. I sent it off to be fired anyway, because I wanted to see what clumpy glaze would look like. (Answer: “clumpy.”) A third issue, as my dad pointed out, is that it’s “kind of an ugly color.” I’d layered two glazes, hoping for a nice spring-leaf green, but no, not quite.

These are my favorites, especially the one on the right and the one on the left (the one in the middle is fine, but it’s earlier than the other two and I didn’t have the lip the way I wanted it; also, I like the color less):

My teacher did not approve of my little rounded bowls, as they are in all ways opposite from the Tall Straight-Sided Cylinder I was supposed to be working on—but making them is what made me happy and excited about the class, instead of discouraged and floppy. I like them, and I liked making them.

This is like a little set:

All three of those, believe it or not, began their lives as attempts to make a Tall Straight-Sided Cylinder. The little flattish bowl was, as you might imagine, a spectacular failure of a cylinder, but that made it an equally spectacular save. My teacher showed me how to stick a needle tool (basically a needle on a handle) into the item while it was spinning, to carve off the collapsed upper half, and then I salvaged the flared bottom half.

These next five are in order, and all were attempts to make a tall straight-sided cylinder. So you can see I am making SOME progress as we go down the line. The first three, when they failed to be cylinders, I trimmed the bottoms to be rounded, and added a foot, so you should look only at the shape/angle/lumpiness of their sides. Those are, left to right: Week 5, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, and Week 8.


Nothing I have shown you so far was made before my fourth 3-hour class session. That is, the WORST item in the bunch was still made after at LEAST twelve hours of practice on the wheel. In the next picture, the three blue items in the foreground are the things Paul made in his very first class:

But I’m not bitter. No. I’m pleased for him. For him and HIS NEW WIFE THE POTTERY WHEEL, SINCE APPARENTLY THEY GET ALONG SO WELL

32 thoughts on “Photos of the Pottery

  1. Jenny

    Your stuff is SO pretty! I love the colors and I legit would buy that shallow blue bowl with the brown edges. When you described the things you did, I think you undersold how good it was :)

  2. Melissa

    Those are GORGEOUS! Also Wal-Mart and Sam’s club had some really nice shawls or Rauna scarves as they were calling them.

  3. SIL Anna

    Your favorites are also my favorites. Every one of these turned out nicer than anything I made
    after my (one attempt at) pottery class! So pretty!

    Also, the last paragraph: lol.

  4. shin ae

    Hahaha the end part about Paul.

    I love your pottery. Love it.

    Nordstrom has nice shawls, and the ones in the Juniors’ section are pretty inexpensive. The regular ones go on sale and are very reasonably-priced.

    Usually I knit or crochet my own shawls, though, and I’m not trying to be insufferable; I’m excited to talk about arts and crafts.

    This post is so exciting.

  5. Shari

    As someone who spent several years doing wheel-thrown pottery classes, I feel qualified to say good job! And I don’t think I’ve ever thrown anything out. We have so many hideous pencil holders around, because what else do you do with semi-straight sided cylinders that are way too short to be vases?

  6. LeighTX

    You did VERY well! Also Old Navy has blanket scarves which are my favorite thing; I take mine to the movies, on airplanes, in the car, it’s like a security blanket only stylish and warm.

  7. Jocelyn

    Wow, so impressed! I seriously thought you were showing us a group photo from all the participants’ objects. They looked like they’d been made by people who have been doing it a lot longer. Way to go! And also, your last bit about Paul is hilarious.

    1. Maureen

      I thought the group photo was from all participants, too! Well done! (And I, too, loved the last sentence and honestly laughed out loud. :))

  8. Alice

    Swistle! These are lovely! I was expecting lopsided tilty lumpy cups at this point ;-)

    I assumed those 2 group shots meant those were the entire CLASS group results. Honestly!

    I love the shapes of your non-straight-sided-cylinder objects far more. I’m with Shari, what would you do with straight sided cylinders anyway? I find the short curved shapes so much more pleasing.

    I would legitimately pay money for that shallow turquoise bowl with the marigold edges. That is so beautiful, both in form/shape and color placement.

    (Also: Paul should feel VERY STINKING PROUD OF HIMSELF WHATEVER. I may be touchy on this subject, being personally in possession of a husband who I once coerced to join my frisbee team… and having never played before, not really enjoying the sport, and not trying overly hard, became our star player and highest scorer of the season. Like by a lot. Which was great for our team so I’m totally not bitter AT ALL HONEST.) (I am also lying.)

  9. Gigi

    I also thought it was a group shot of the whole classes work. I am utterly amazed at what you’ve accomplished and envious. The turquoise bowl in the fifth picture is my very favorite.

  10. Laura

    Wow those are beautiful!!!!! I love that dark teal oval vase Screw your instructor, make what you want! It’s your money and your learning experience and it looks like you’re doing just fine without making a tall straight edge cylinder.

    1. ButtercupDC

      I was going to say Marshall’s! Or Burlington Coat Factory, which always seems to have lots of things like this when I’m poking around in aisles I don’t usually visit.

  11. Alex

    I, too, assumed the group shot was the entire classes’ final products. And I, too, am still chuckling over that last paragraph. I so deeply appreciate you.

  12. Alison

    So many pretty things!

    Re Paul: My husband I did a pottery class together when we were dating. He was much better at it than I was and it was enormously frustrating to me. His trying to help me (explain) was even more frustrating. It was a good thing it was only a six week class is what I’m saying.

    The only things I still have from that class are some little rounded bowls salvaged from other failures. They’re perfect for holding change and other knick knacks. Hooray for pretty little bowls.

  13. sooboo

    Love the colors and the small bowl shapes. Perfect for rings, cat drinking water, loose change etc… Who wants tall cylinders? You can only use them as vases. I have a friend who teaches sculpture and ceramic classes. She takes all the misshapen cups home and those are her coffee cups. They are so cool looking because they look like a misshapen set! I wouldn’t throw anything out if I were you. Put the bottomless one in the yard and throw some seeds in it, in the spring. I use broken coffee cups to mark the edges of flower beds.

  14. ccr in MA

    Your pottery looks great! I’m so glad you got something out of the class, even if it wasn’t what the teacher wanted you to get. I am throwing her some serious stink-eye for not realizing that people learn different things different ways, and what matters is how the students feel about it, not whether her entire class’s output matches. She may be good at pottery, but not so much the teaching part, is what I am saying. (Teachers have to be able to teach more than one way, in my opinion; yes, Ms. Feldman in pre-calculus, I am thinking of you.)

  15. Jenny

    I honestly think they are wonderful and I’m not just saying that. I can’t believe you could straight up make stuff in one class. Wow. That’s so cool.

  16. Julia

    good lord you are funny. and talented! I was looking at the group photo trying to figure out which might be yours — they are all great!

  17. Shawna

    Oh Swistle! These are WONDERFUL. I really love that dark teal glaze (and I think you chose much prettier/more interesting colors than Paul).

  18. Allison

    HOLY CRAP those are nice! I know you’re not someone who does that underselling things so people will praise you more, but if I didn’t know you I might THINK you were, based on how you described things. Of course, none of them are tall cylinders, but they are glorious failures. And Jesus, Paul’s are effing beautiful and I would be jealous of that whore pottery wheel too, clearly she picks favourites.

  19. Liz Miller

    Your set of three little rounded bowls? Those look like my one super successful piece that I did in high school (super successful in that it came out exactly as I envisioned it). I gave it to my mom and she still has it to this day.

    Your whole group of items are beautiful. The bottomless vase looks like it would work as a holder for dried flowers or a towel holder in your guest bath.

    And OMG your last sentence. YES. THAT.

  20. Shelly

    OMG, my hubby does that all the time! It’s a miracle we don’t murder them in their sleep! Your pottery items look terrific!

    We won’t even discuss Paul and that shameless hussy Ms. Wheel.

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