Saturday, September 8, 2007

in internet exile

No thanks to Florida football, the Arts & Crafts Center has been closed the last two Saturdays for home games. That's left me with a jonesing for clay between my fingers. And where do you go when reality just won't cut it? Why, the World Wide Web, of course.

There are tremendous resources for potters online. Like lots of niche communities, this one has thrived by sharing specialized knowledge across many borders.

I hope to update you on some of these resources throughout these few months. To start, I figured we'd go with the big picture: the world. I've been watching YouTube videos of potters doing their thing and let me tell you: in education as in pottery, the Japanese have got us beat. Don't believe me? Watch this:

And this:

If you can generalize from two videos of Japanese potters, I'd like to note a few things I thought were interesting. One, they throw on Shimpo wheels known for their whisper-quiet motors and which, I've just learned, are products of a Japanese company. Both potters throw off the hump and directly on the wheel head, a practice I have come to envy after fighting with wobbly bats for the last two weeks. I also learned from a little Internet perusing that throwing off the hump is more common in Eastern cultures than Western, which places more emphasis on individual designs, rather than limited design and mass production. The potters do an interesting trick when coning down of twisting the cone to the side. I haven't figured that one out.

Here's a video from Vietnam.

In China, pottery is an ancient art developed from the rich ceramic resources there. Dishware in England became known as China, my high school history teacher told me, because of China's preeminent ceramics. Prized was its white porcelain with blue decoration. You can read more about that here.

Here's an interesting glimpse of how it was in the day. An Indian potter using a primitive wheel. and we thought kick wheels were a lot of work!

Another trick I've picked up from watching potters on YouTube is to coat the bat with a little bit of clay before you throw your clay ball onto it. That helps it stick.

So maybe I do have Florida football to thank. I wouldn't have learned these tricks from the masters without being forced from the studio.

1 comment:

Alex Tiegen said...

Hey Steph,
I really like your blog.
How did you embed your videos? I wanted to embed some to liven up my post.