Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Plethora of Pots

Once the clay creations were formed, we set them up on a high shelf in our kitchen. They are pretty breakable before they get fired. We took 3 or 4 weeks to use up all our clay and let it dry. Then we packed our pottery into a box with extra padding around each piece and drove about 25 minutes to Wild Ginger Studios. The studio itself is a neat place in a small town. The lady who owns it enthusiastically answers any questions we have. The kids and I browse the displayed pieces for sale while we wait to speak to her. She charged $5 for each firing. The one downside to this handicraft was all the driving. We had to drop off pottery, pick it up the next week to paint, drop off pieces for another firing, and go back the next week to pick up the finished pieces. It's a pretty drive, but tank fill-ups can get a little high.

One thing I wish I had researched or gotten help on was the painting. The studio owner gave advice on technique, but color matching and patterns were mainly guesswork. Especially since the glaze colors in the jar are not what you will see once it gets fired in the kiln. My kids didn't see any problems and painted happily away. But I want more direction for myself next time.

We paid $27.55 for 5 bottles of glaze and the owner threw in 2 more for free. She told us to do a quick once over with glaze, and then go over the piece again with a careful coat. The bottom of each piece must be kept free of glaze.  If you get some on the bottom, you can wipe it off.

We spent $82.55 plus gas money on this handicraft. We own the tools, glazes, and instruction book now, and the experience of figuring it out ourselves has been a lot of fun. The cost for classes for all 4 of us would have been around $450 plus gas money, as I mentioned previously, and we would have been tied down to someone else's schedule. So I'm quite delighted with this family handicraft experiment.  We look forward to continuing pottery with the new school year.

A Plethora of Pots

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Handling Clay

Pottery has to be the most calming yet fulfilling handicraft I've dealt with.  We worked with clay once a week, completing one project at each sit-down session.  I first made a phone call to our local studio (Wild Ginger Studios) to ask questions about firing and handling finished clay.  I hadn't realized our clay would need to be fired in a kiln and not in our oven.  But the studio does outside firings and the owner gave great advice about how to make and transport our pieces.

The kids loved the squishing and molding.  Jonathan (7) and Phoebe (5) needed more help shaping their pieces.  Some of their pieces turned out better than their mother's though!  You have to work fast and keep clay covered with plastic or the clay will dry out (a few squirts from the water bottle returns moisture).  We learned three techniques: pinch pot, coil pot, and slab pots.  It felt so professional to use the tools.  Elizabeth had a special artsy outfit she would wear for each session. 

There is a definite mess to clean up at the end!  


But the clay wipes up easily.  The tools get washed and everything put back into a box.  The whole process makes me happy; I may have discovered a new fulfilling interest.  Maybe it takes me back to my childhood days of playing in the mud.  At any rate, this has been a pleasant experience for the whole family.  We plan to continue the projects in the kit with the upcoming school year.  I'm on the search for more clay nearby (shipping about doubles the price).   Painting and firing our pots come next.  

Handling Clay

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Search for Pottery

Handicrafts are a fun party of a Charlotte Mason education.  I love needlework, wood and paper crafts, painting....  But children need help learning a useful skill, and teaching three school-aged kids separate crafts was getting to be too much.  So I went on a quest for a handicraft we could do together as a family.  

Pottery was on the forefront of my mind.  It's earthy and rustic and kids love playing with clay.  The price for classes for all of us was too steep (about $450, although I thought about asking if they could do a family class for less).  I'm definitely interested in wheel work for myself at some point.  The kids aren't old enough for that yet (I believe she said they needed to be 13 or older).  But I did find a place in Texas that sells pottery kits with clay and tools included: Heritage Ministries' Homesteading Crafts.  The kit cost $30 with enough clay for one person to do 9 projects.  Shipping came out to $30 also, but I was willing to pay $60 for this kit.

I figured we'd use less clay by making smaller projects and just make it through a few to see how we liked it.  If we wanted to continue, I could purchase more clay.  After a little confusion with the company (which a manager cleared up with a phone call), I found that shipping was only $15 and the other $15 was refunded to my credit card.  So total cost for this pottery kit was $45.

The tools are real and sharp ~ definitely for older kids with parental supervision.  My 5, 7, and 10 year olds handled them fine with my direction.  We only did pottery when the baby was napping.  There are a couple of other supplies we needed to gather: water bottle, plastic, rolling pin, etc.  And our dining table handled fine as a work surface.

So our search for a family handicraft that all (including Mom) would enjoy was successful.  More on creating our pots in the next two posts.

A Search for Pottery