A new Potter’s first ‘Member’s Only’ Workshop
I took my first pottery class (as an adult) about a year ago. Like many before me, I fell in love with clay. With a bit of encouragement from friends, I joined the Kawartha Potters Guild in January. Among the benefits of membership; which include discounts on classes and being part of a supportive community of craftspeople, several workshops are offered to members only. Recently guild member Margrit Beesley offered such a workshop, and I had the opportunity to participate in building a hand built mug.
As a new potter, I was a little nervous about signing up for a member’s only workshop which I assumed was guaranteed to be filled with potters much more experienced than myself. I showed up on the morning of class with all my enthusiasm and most of the required tools. Of the six of us in class, experience levels ranged from the veritable newbie (myself) to experienced hand builders, to primarily wheel potters with multi-decades of experience.
Margrit’s experience with hand building developed after a hand injury made wheel throwing too physically trying. She encouraged us to make hand built pottery that didn’t try to replicate wheel thrown pottery, but celebrated its hand built attributes.
Among the resources referenced, Sandi Pierantozzi’s DVD “What If?” was highly recommended, as was her CircleMatic template set. Margarit demonstrated a hand built cylinder mug, showing us many tricks-of-her-trade for making slabs, using texture, creating and altering cylinders and adding handles.
We participants then created our own mugs to practice Margrit’s methods. It was fun to peek at each other’s work and pull inspiration from others. Margrit encouraged us to think about negative space by looking at the shape of the area between the handle and the pot. She brought up design concepts of repetition and proportion, and encouraged us to be mindful of these in our hand building.
In addition to being a great learning experience, this workshop solidified for me that membership in the Kawartha Potters Guild has privileges. I got to spend a creative day with fellow clay-lovers and I learned so many new tricks. I learned about both technical and creative aspects of hand building. I was directed to some vetted and useful resources for further exploration. But most of all, I was left hungry for my next opportunity to participate in a KPG workshop.