#38: Pottery

Posted by Megan on January 29th, 2012

My first time behind the wheel!


I have no finesses. I color so hard I break crayons; it takes me several minutes (and a lot of luck) to thread a needle; I can’t even braid my own hair. Even the shampoo named Finesse revolts in my hair causing a frizzy unruly mane that is nearly impossible to tame.

When Brad and I went on a Clay Date at Fired Up Studios in Minneapolis, I knew it would be a challenge for my Frankenstein hands; but I was

That's hot!

excited to try it. Being a good potter requires patience, practice and “soft hands.” I have absolutely none of those qualities. Being a good Harry Potter would be more up my ally. (I look fantastic in round glasses!)

We arrived at Fired Up Studio for our three hour pottery class with a bag of beer in tow. The class was geared towards couples. The atmosphere was casual and relaxed. As we waited for the class to begin, Brad and I got settled at our pottery wheels and chatted with a few other couples. Our class began with introductions and an overview of the agenda. The agenda was fairly simple: watch the instructor make a clay thing, make your own clay thing. That sounds easy!

I think Judy might have a lot of experience with pots. I'm just saying...


Our instructor, Judy, was very friendly and talkative. She walked us through each step calmly and with ease. As she demonstrated each step she expertly created a beautiful vase. After hitting the kiln and slapping it with some glaze, this vase could have easily been sold in a high end gift store. From start to finish it took her about 4 minutes to create. This is going to be easy!

After no more than 20 minutes we were set free to create our own masterpieces. The first step is to smack your blob of clay in the middle of the wheel. Judy instructed us to use our gusto and confidently splat the clay with a firm throw. This part I can handle! I threw it SMACK – right in the perfect spot. Ta-dah! I should have stopped while I was ahead.


This is about the only part I did correctly.


Next we had to “balance” our blob. I never really got the hang of this.  Judy told us that our clay was either balanced or unbalanced and we would “just know” when it was correct. I assume this means I was unbalanced…. a label I’m used to hearing describe myself.

After our clay was balanced, it was time to begin creating the overall shape. Next we carved out the middle of the clay to create the inside of our vessel.

Brad demonstrates the correct way to begin burrowing the hole. Mine did not go quite so smoothly.


Love him!


I was still on board. This part was doable – not perfect, but achieved. The next phase is where my project went to pot. (ha!) In order to create height, you had to pull portions of clay upward. Inevitably I would pull too firmly or unevenly and the top section would collapse. BOO!

I expect this section is the most difficult to master. At one point I had the shape of a reasonably pretty vase created on my wheel. Instead of instantly stopping and completing the final steps to remove it, I pushed my luck and tried to make it perfect.

This is what it ended up looking like.


This isn't exactly usefully shaped.


Try #2 was even more disastrous. Yikes!


Perhaps I could spin this as "fine art" but we all know this is just a mess!


I was dead set on walking away with something presentable, so I was very conservative when creating my third and final piece. I even enlisted Judy’s help to remove it from my wheel just to ensure I had something to walk away with.



We left our “masterpieces” at Fired Up, and they put them in the kiln and glazed them for us. A few weeks later they called to inform us that our pottery was ready to be picked up.


Complete and ready for use.... as a .... ummm... coin bowl?


We had a fantastic time. It was such a unique and social way to spend a Friday evening. While I’m certainly not a professional potter (in every way: clay, illegal substance, or fictional wizard) I’d love to try it again.

  • © 2011 Megan Steil