An Undergrad’s Guide to the Field of Ceramics

An Undergrad’s Guide to the Field of Ceramics


Wednesday, January 17

Walking into my first ceramics class since Mary Lutz course senior year of high school, I was confident in my abilities to thrive in this course. We took notes on the “spiritual” aspect of clay, and then made stamps. Yep, stamps. I made mine a star, or tried to.


Monday, January 22

We took our stamps out of the kiln today. Mine wasn’t a star. It was a wilted piece of fruit.


Monday, January 29

We began our Chawan Tea Bowls today. The first one looked more like my dog’s water bowl. The second one resembled a more Chawan like drinking instrument, but also could be a multipurpose cup: one end for shots and other for chaser, or tea I suppose.


Monday, February 5

The critique for the Chawans was today. The multipurpose cup went over very well. The sketchy, special, glazing technique was also a hit. I guess my lack of skills worked in my favor for this project.


Wednesday, February 7

Our next project is the “Mad Hatter Tea Party”. Basically, we have to make creative, warped objects that resemble a tea party, but not functionally. Why am I taking this class if I can’t learn how to make my own Pottery Barn mugs and plates?  This project is also using my new favorite technique… the wheel. The wheel is a tool originating from purgatory, in which those who loved material things too much were forced to use the wheel in order to destroy their favorite objects (mainly clothing) by drenching them in red clay.


Wednesday, February 14

When glazing a piece of work, one must follow these criteria:

  1.     Smooth the object
  2.     Under glaze it
  3.     Under glaze it again
  4.     Bisque fire it
  5.     Glaze with a stroke and coat, or an over coat.

I afraid I went wrong at step two. The kind sales lady at American Ceramics, located in the middle of nowhere, off of I-30, failed to sell me the under glaze I most directly asked for. So, my poor classmate and I glazed our entire projects in over coat. When asking the instructor about the possible consequences of doing this, she said it would either

  1. a)    Crack the entire project
  2. b)    Meld to the bottom of the kiln
  3. c)    Be perfectly fine and shiny.

I must have done something in my last life to deserve the bad karma that is this class.


Monday, February 19

THE. DAY. HAS. COME. We are making mugs. They are technically supposed to be “crazy mugs” but not to worry, they are mugs nonetheless. I am going to learn how to dominate this wheel, and make the best damn mugs you have ever seen, even with my dip nails on. How do you feel about that purgatory wheel?

Following class, the heels of my hands were scraped, with hints of blood, and I wanted to rip my right thumb off.


Monday, February 26

My mugs came out fabulous. They are smooth as hell, absolutely functional, and I want to drink a strong coffee concoction out of them. The glazing will be so advanced that everyone will run away, embarrassed by their sad attempts.

We also critiqued our Mad Hatter projects, and my stack of cake plates with the stunning pink macaroon on top was absolutely, hands down, no questions asked, the most creative, technically sound piece on the table. I don’t even attend tea parties and I conquered them.