Friday, 20 July 2018

Craft class - Pottery throwing

A very photo-light post today as it's about the pottery throwing class I went on, and being covered in clay is not conducive to handling your phone!

I threw a pot at the Manor House Hotel back in 2014 when I had a fab week there with my mum.  Since then, I've wanted to try it again, but could never find a class.  There is a regular class near to where I live, but it's at the same time as silversmithing so I'd never made it.  Then I noticed you could book a one-off class on a Sunday.  So I did.

10 of us gathered round a table and learnt how to wedge clay.  At this point, I was already a bit mistrustful of the teacher as she seemed rather rude.  As it turns out, it did not bode well.  Clay wedged, we went through to the throwing room where the teacher gave us a 10 minute demonstration covering everything from centering the clay to bringing it up, taking it back down, making the hole and drawing it up, then cleaning it up and cutting it off.  Then we were let loose.  Great, my favourite way to learn.

This was my workstation.  An electric wheel and a stool.  My first fight was to switch the machine to left handed.  The teacher had asked if anyone was left handed, just me, then told me I would try to throw right handed.  Having watched the demonstration, I knew I couldn't.  I just don't have any control with my non-dominant hand.  She was very pissed off with me.  Turned out that throwing left handed involves nothing more than pressing a switch on the side to change the direction of the wheel and moving the foot pedal to the left (which I did myself) which she also fought against me doing!  Years of sewing on a sewing machine meant that I KNOW I can't control speed with my right foot.  But what do I know?

So we began. At first there was much laughter, but then things started to go wrong.  No problem.  We were a room full of beginners, of course things would go wrong.  When they did, the teacher said, very aggressively I might add, "that's not how you do it!  Do it how I showed you!".  Hmmmm....  After being yelled at a few times, people stopped asking...

I was having trouble making my hole.  I could centre the clay and draw it up, but as soon as I put that hole in the top (to make a pot), it went off centre.  She refused to believe me.  Said the problem was it wasn't centred at the start.  So I showed her it was... then she'd walk off and not watch the bit I was having trouble with!

I threw 10 pots.  9 of which collapsed.  The survivor (which is crap!) is in the middle of the photo above.  At that point, I went home!  She said I could throw some more, but what's the point?  I was unable to solve my de-centering problem myself and she just gave me abuse if I asked for help...

(Mine is the one at the bottom).  NOT a good class.  I will NOT be going back.  I don't think pottery is my "thing", but I do think I could do better than this.  Maybe I'll try again with another teacher, if I can find one.

I have chosen not to name the teacher or the place I went to learn as I realise this is a very scathing post.

If my pot survives the kiln (which I doubt!) I will come back and show you the pot.  Oh, another thing!  She said they'd be ready in about 3 weeks.  I asked if she'd email us and she said she doesn't have time to email us and we have to email her to ask if it's ready.  So she doesn't have time to send one group email, but does have time to answer 10 people asking if the pots are ready (and if they're not, these 10 people will email again)... customer service??


Rachel said...

I recognise that. What she's doing is offloading the first effort to you. A lot of people will do that because somehow they don't quite make the connection between the first stage effort (such as sending one group email) and the second stage effort (reading and responding to 10 individual emails). It's frustrating, but the logical disconnect seems to be impossible to overcome.

You produce such interesting work I am sure that a different teacher would have made you feel much more connected to the process, and you would have produced much better results.

Anonymous said...

Hi Wendy oh dear your teacher doesn't sound like a teacher at all,what a horrible way to run a business,if she keeps this up no one will want to go ,hope you find a nice teacher that is will to teach and help you,chin up my friend I know that you can do this ,hope you have a lovely weekend my friend xx

Samantha said...

I hope you pass on your experience to whomever is running that shoddy show of a workshop area!

Ellie Foster said...

Dear Wendy
What an unpleasant teacher she sounds. Why do people think they can teach others if they have no patience, (which to me is one of the most important skills needed)? I hope you will be able to find another class because I am sure that if you had a patient and caring teacher, who wanted you to get the most out of the class, you would feel much happier with what you produced.
Have you complained to the organisers of the class? I think you should!
Best wishes

Karen S said...

What a strange day you had. Very disappointing. There is nothing more frustrating than a teacher who does not want to teach!

Alex said...

Makes you wonder if these people want repeat business or do they just not realise that those who pay for their classes will vote with their feet?!

Hillview Embroidery said...

Oh what a shame you had such a disheartening experience. It sounds like the one you did years ago gave you encouragement, the complete opposite to this one! I hope your pot survives, and that you passed on your comments to where the class was hosted. I appreciate you not naming names here, but it sounds like they do need to know!

tialys said...

She sounds awful. I suppose, to be charitable, she might have been having some sort of personal crisis or something and this was just an 'off' day. It's a shame that one person can put you off a craft though and, hopefully, you'll get the opportunity to give it another try one day with somebody more encouraging.

Sarah said...

I'm left-handed too, though it gets complicated because I do some things right-handed (scissors, crochet) so anything new I have to figure out which way works for me.
It's so frustrating when you get bad teachers. You should be able to feel free to ask questions and get help in any class, I always need to see things at least twice before it starts to sink into my brain!