Monday, October 19, 2015

That Time I Took a CerAAAH!mics Class

Hi Friends- I'm tight on time this week, what with trying to graduate (wooooo!) and all, so here's a throwback to that time I took a ceramics class and could only make "things" with mustaches.


My desire to take pottery all started with a book series I began reading a couple of years ago. The girl in it was always doing pottery and it seemed to be not only fun, but relaxing. Plus, Demi Moore made it look pretty cool in Ghost, so I thought I'd give it a try.


I think I'm going to lose my mind.

Class 1: We watch a video on how to knead your clay, throw it on a wheel, and make some fancy things with it. It looks easy. Kneading the clay? That requires practically no skill at all, from what I can tell. Centering the clay? Please, too simple. Making a vase? C'mon now, anyone can do that! All of it looks so easy that I have mentally already created a teacup set, a breathtaking vase, a bowl/plate one-of-a-kind thing, and a Louvre worthy sculpture. I am allllll over this. Pottery- I own you.

Piece. Of. Cake.

Class 2: It's time to actually use our clay. First, the kneading, which about breaks my wrists off due to the clay being ridiculous. I have to knead it approximately 120 times, per section of it that I use, based on instruction of the teacher who told me to get this stupid type of clay in the first place that "absolutely, positively has to be kneaded 120 times" every single time. Forever and a day later, when I'm finally done with that, it's time to throw the clay on the wheel and make a mug.

This is where I start to lose it.

Not only do I not get my clay centered on the wheel for the first hour of class, but I also do not make anything resembling a mug, or anything at all for that matter except a huge pile of messed up mug attempts. I start to get incredibly frustrated.

On top of that, there's this kid in my class who my classmate, Abby, and I have nicknamed Picasso. He's already busted out an entire mug set and he's working on a vase by the hour and a half mark. I am mentally cursing him out in my head.

As I'm still attempting to make one damn mug, I slice my finger open pretty impressively, considering that I'm working with clay and mostly dull objects. Score one for the clay.

I give up and go home.

Class 3: Picasso is done with his entire mug set and is putting the finishing touches on his vase which now looks much more like a beautiful sculpture of some sort. Damn him and his fantastic pottery skills! Abby and I have decided that we are the worst students in the class. We make a pact that neither one of us is allowed to drop out and we change to a Pass/Fail grade, as is suggested by one of the other students. Clearly, others are noticing our amazing pottery skills.

I need to get four mugs made by the end of class so that I can put handles on them in next weeks class. The handles, by the way, also look incredibly easy to make, but I'm not falling for that movie magic trickery again!

After about ten failed attempts at mugs, the teacher ends up pitying me and making one mug for me. I end up making one "mug" as well. Please see below.

I call it the If-An-Earthquake-Were-Happening-and-You-Were-Making-Pottery-Instead-of-Running-for-Your-Life Mug. It's so beautiful I almost cry.

Class 4: Picasso has moved on entirely to a new project. Whatever. Abby and I are stuck in mug making hell. I silently pray that I get a guardian angel of pottery to come help me out and, low and behold, something magical happens. I end up making something, not a mug, but a small bowl thing. I am thrilled! Then I bust out an object that might actually pass as a mug...maybe. I keep going and I end up with a small vase (which could pass for a teacup in some culture...somewhere...probably...) and a weird looking something or the other. Apparently I can make things, just not mugs.

Oh well.

I now attempt to attach handles onto my "mugs." It does not go well. I fling clay all over everyone and end up making handles that only the Jolly Green Giant would be able to use. I give up and decide to log some extra pottery time over the weekend.

Saturday: I'm stretched on time so I mentally prepare myself the entire morning before I get there. I will make a handle. I will make a handle. I. WILL. MAKE. A. HANDLE!

I end up making 20 "handles" before I give up and just go with the few best ones. My poor little earthquake mug looks so lame that I give it a makeover into what I now call The Mustache Man Mug. Isn't he adorable? I think I love him.
I get one decent handle made for this teacup thing I accidentally created and give up. Oh well. That Pass/Fail grade is clearly going to pay off.

I think I'm going to start a whole line of Mustache Man Mugs. I see this being big. Like clearance at Wal-Mart big. Let me know if you want in on this amazing new product line.


Things in the land of pottery making have taken a turn for the worst. Right now my pact with Abby is the only thing keeping me in class. My bucket list clearly states "Take a pottery class." A, as in one, not a semester's worth. I believe I have fulfilled the requirements, thank you very much.

Last week I learned how to glaze. Again, I was fooled by the seemingly easy, piece-of-cake demonstration that the teacher put on: Take pottery, dip into glaze, let dry, done.


You have to use industrial sized mixing equipment to stir the glaze. By "you" I mean me, the student, has to mix it up. Why, I ask, do we have a teacher's aid? I'm just saying. For one thing, the mixing spoon thing is as tall as I am. For another, I sort of, possibly, might have overpowered an innocent water bucket with it, causing a huge sound explosion while the teacher was giving a presentation. Maybe.

I also might have given up after I glazed my hand instead of a "mug" and decided to paint the glaze on. I'm sure that's illegal, but don't tell. It will be our little secret.

Glazing: It's hella hard, y'all. Hella hard. Poor Mustache Man. I have no idea what the final product will look like, but I'm scared for him.

This week things got even more awful. I had made one really, truly beautiful vase. Even the teacher was in awe of it, and that doesn't happen much. But, when I went into class on Thursday, I discovered that it had broken. My little pottery making heart is filled with sadness. On top of that, I messed up my wrist. For the third time. In my defense, I didn't see this one coming. I would like to say that I got in a Ninja fight, but actually I was attacked by a hoe. And by "attacked" I mean that I tried to do yard work and it backfired on me. And by "backfired" I mean that I may have gotten a little crazy with the hoe and things may have gotten out of hand, and my hand may have gotten in the way. Maybe.

 Hoes: Can't live with them, can't live without them. make pottery you need hands and wrists and strength to put behind them. I can't even brush my hair like a normal person or pump soap from a dispenser right now, let alone knead that darn clay seventeen thousand and one times. I can type and hold things and even still do some yoga poses, but when I try and put pressure on it and simultaneously turn it- pain. Just pain.

I attempted one-handed kneading, which took me an hour and resulted in a square shaped thingamajig. I tried to center the square and make it into a bowl, however, the clay came flying off the wheel and almost hit my friends in the face. Guess that won't work. At some point I loudly let out the sound of a wounded animal without even realizing it, causing stares and laughter aimed in my direction. At least I'm entertaining everyone.

So...since I was officially a project behind with the broken vase, and since I now have to make four bowls, I may or may not have bribed my teacher into kneading, centering, and starting the bowl for me, with the promise of me baking that chocolate chip brownie dessert and bringing it to class next week. He may or may not have taken pity on me and actually agreed to that. I can neither confirm nor deny any of this.

Three bowls to go. I really need to start thinking about who else I can bribe with food. That, or I need to hire an assistant just to pass class. It's going to be a long semester.

On top of all of this, I recently decided to be a brunette again, which has nothing to do with pottery except for the fact that all of these tragic things happened in the same day. By "tragic" I mean the highlights the salon put in really didn't want to come out the first time I dyed my hair, which resulted in me somewhat resembling an oompa loompa, orangish wise. By "orangish" I mean it may have looked like my head was on fire, a little bit. The second bottle of dye did the trick, mostly. I am now a brownish-redish on top, and brownish-blackish on bottom, brunette. I could probably get into a motorcycle gang pretty easily. I'm going to pretend like I planned that.

I'm glad this week is over.


Hi, my name is Zack Morris. 

I have morphed into the female version of him recently. I skip class, show up late, and don't turn my projects in on time. And, to top it all off, I don't really care that I'm doing or not doing any of these things. Which is good, because the "normal" me would freak out and would never, not EVER, do any of this. Case in point: For Senior Ditch Day in high school I refused to ditch unless my mom called me out officially, me and my goody two-shoe-ness.

Good news- things have gotten better.

Not because I now have the gift of making beautiful and perfect pottery. No, no. It's all because I streamlined my life. I took a long hard look at what I was doing each and every day, what I wanted to do, what I didn't (but was doing anyway) and why I felt the need to try and do all of it perfectly. I made a conscious decision to put my time and energy into the things I love, the things that matter, the things that must absolutely, positively be done. Then I made a decision to loosen my grip and to let go entirely, in some cases, of the things that didn't really matter. Like my grade in pottery.

I'm not going to lie, it feels good to be gangsta like that.

All I ever wanted was for pottery to be a fun thing I did, when and how I wanted to. Not something I had to get an A+ in or that I had to be great at. So I let go of the A+ and I made it the hobby it was always supposed to be. Permanent record, shmermanent record. Or something like that. Also, Mustache Man has become incredibly popular...I'm so happy for him. 

Streamlining allows you to take a long hard look at what you really, truly want, not what you feel you need to want or do. The key is to not feel bad about it. Not for one second are you allowed to feel guilty for making the decision to simplify your life. You have to be proud of the fact that you realized what matters to you the most. That you cut through the red tape of everything else and got down to the heart of who you are and what you want. 

I actually enjoy pottery now, believe it or not. I'm horrible at it, but so many other good things have come from it. Like my friend, Abby, one of the most amazing and hilarious people I know. I never would have met her before. I never would have met Picasso (aka Brian...he does have a real name), and Matt, and Tim, and Valerie. I would never have known any of these really wonderful, fun people. That would have been a horrible loss, truly.

I even enjoyed making the treat for my class so much that I started bringing goodies in regularly. Banana bread, more brownies, kettle corn. I'm "The Girl Who Brings Food To Eat" now, not "The Girl Who Makes Things With Mustaches." I think that's a good turn in events, especially considering my recent creation, which I have dubbed, The French Ninja Turtle. Please take note of his amazing beret and fabulous mustache. I believe he's saying, "Mon awesome est dangerous" or "My awesome is dangerous." Yes, French Ninja Turtle, it is. It really is.

Go forth, my friends, and streamline your life. It's so much better to love what you live for and to leave the rest out. 

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