What is your favorite part about making pottery? Throwing or building? Carving? Glazing? Firing? With so many different ways to make pots there were some great responses and insights into what part other potters like best and why they like it.
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Here we are, episode 9! In this episode we are going to hear about your favorite part of the pottery making process. Working with clay, especially making functional pots, requires certain steps. But I bet if you really looked at the details, every potter has their own unique way of doing things and it was interesting to hear why people liked a certain part of the process. To start with we’ll hear from potters that couldn’t pick just one part of the process. Next, we’ll hear why a majority of people like the throwing or forming part of the process. Then we’ll hear about trimming, carving, glazing and decorating. At the end we’ll hear about opening the kiln and a few very specific or different parts of the process.
Let’s start with the people that love everything about making pottery.
Lucia_c It’s all so beautiful the shaping the trimming the glazing.. each part is magic ✨✨✨
Chcceramics I love making.. but I always feel as though my favorite part changes with my mood. Learning and teaching are pretty steadfast though….
Pitchpinepottery Throwing, watching the clay change color as it dries, trimming, carving, opening the kiln to a glaze firing. The entire process holds promise, mystery and magic!
Karen Sullivan can’t pick just one favorite part of the process. Each part of the process is my favorite. But my least favorite is wedging!
Jamie Schuler The entire process, because nothing is more satisfying than to start from scratch and end up with something that has been created by both earth and being at the same time.
Throwing or Forming
Melissayungbluth Building. The very first part of the process. I zen out the best at that stage. ☺️
Dowidat.ceramics Creating at the wheel that first process of getting the creative juices going!! It’s a zen moment for (me) to be in my head.
Mrs.mabry1130 My favorite part of the process is definitely shaping the clay after it’s got its height because you get to play with it a little. If you don’t like it, you can change it. And the meaning behind it goes far beyond just shaping it.
Carolclarkson Throwing!! I love the moist clay on my fingertips taking on a new shape ..amazing .
Kim_keylan Throwing, it’s my little zen meditation. Me, clay, wheel and nothing.
2frogsstudio After I have centered and opened and bring it to a cylinder, the possibilities open to me to shape it is the magical moment. It’s also the hardest part too. It’s up to me to bring out the beautiful form or to destroy it to nothingness. But the cylinder and its infinite possibilities…
Anotherseattleartist Throwing for sure. Followed closely by opening a glaze or luster kiln ?
Muddyduckpottery I love throwing. But I can’t repeat too many forms at a time, or I get bored
Gingerbarrheafey Throwing a ball of clay into a shape and then trimming the pot. Period. Dislike glazing tremendously.
Mhewryk32 Throwing! Love the feel of it and all the techniques behind it. Love how much faster you can accomplish certain forms compared to how long it would take to hand build the same form.
omelettrees.studio At least for the half of us, the throwing is the favourite part of the process. Cleaning up the vessel with the metal kidney right at the end to form a clean shape is completed with a fair amount of satisfaction, so much so the only real trimming needed after that is simply to turn out a foot at the bottom. Here’s one made earlier today, just about to be cut and lifted from the wheel. (embed:)
Pathwaypottery The creating!
Martha H Working in porcelain which is so finicky you must work fast concept in mind …and because of it’s memory it is challenging( it’s just so silky and it’s like touching your soul) but oh so satisfying.
Jim M Adding coil upon coil is my fav part of the process:-)
Jane N creating the vessel. That initial getting clay centered and coning and getting the initial shape. That feel of the clay in my fingers, and using my arms and hands to make something. Just so satisfying.
Trimming and Carving
Mageluj My favorite moment is when I trim or draw on a leather hard piece. It’s meditative.
Mellumbceramics Definitely turning or trimming… especially when it’s a super smooth clay body. It’s addictive!
tangible_goodsThere is something so satisfying about trimming when the clay is just right.
Mrserinb24 Trimming! I love to take a rough bowl and carve and trim until it’s just perfect!
Im_glazed_ceramics Tooling for sure. It’s like cutting away all the unwanted clay of a piece and bringing out it’s true beauty
Betsyhcroft I love trimming. It’s like shaving away excess weight.
Laurielandrypottery Carving with the wire stylus. It is my Zen.
Janaevalle Trimming and texture
Anniebilities_pottery Mixing clay on the wheel and trimming away the slip to reveal the marble design.. my fav
Rachel Kirby Turning – so you start with something half decent but by the time you’ve trimmed it (in my case this takes a while :-)) it turns into something more beautiful
Glazing and Decorating
Tmleventry I love glazing and adding new designs to pieces!
Indiagavarri I love to paint each piece!! ?
Lori W Decorating! Especially slip-trailing. So luscious,
Reg F . as an amateur I am probably not “qualified” to take part – never the less – I love the painting part and feel that not enough potters see pottery as suitable canvas…
Laura S I love applying texture to a freshly rolled slab of clay! Random patterns often reveal a beautiful surprise once a hand-built piece is cut out and assembled.
Jerichostudiopottery Opening my kiln to find the glazes have outshone my hopes and expectations of what they will become.
Palmtreepots When that kiln door is open and it becomes Christmas time all over again
Pineapple.pottery Because I’m pretty new to this with no wheel or room to make own glazes it’s still opening a lustre fire. Close second (soon to become first) is seeing the underglaze change colour into what I wanted on painting as i figure out how they act compared to paint. (Very different I’ve found!)
Theclayrabbit Opening the glaze kiln….???????(Well, MOST of the time! Occasionally it’s a shock!)?
Veronstanza Cuando las cosas salen del horno y nada se quebró … se siente bien eso ?
Which translates roughly to “When things come out of the kiln and nothing broke … it feels good” Yes, the MudTalk Podcast is now bilingual! Sorry to all of you Spanish speakers for my terrible pronunciation.
Terraforms Teaching/problem-solving with others. So much fun.
Artbygretamichelle Right now my favorite part is applying terra sig to my pots knowing that when they get into the gas and they get the soda they transform. Tomorrow something else may grab me as I explore new techniques and new ways to speak through the clay.
Tiltedkilnworks I’m a handbuilder. So when I cut open a closed form and it breathes a breath. My piece comes alive. It’s surreal ?
Stonecropstudio Although I’m not a big producer I love seeing the pieces line up at the end of each procedure. I guess it’s the old printmaker in me working in editions!
Thats_my_art_teacher Signing the pot! It lets my hands know they’re done!
My Favorite Responses
Winkingcat I like the progression of clay work. I like the feeling of raw clay being kneaded, the zen of watching a shape take form on the wheel, the form being perfected as its trimmed, (loading) the kiln and wondering what bisque will survive, choosing a specific glaze for each item as if you’re dressing it up, and the great crescendo of opening the glaze kiln, and the delight of people seeing your work. I do it for the wheel, I am blessed to be a part of the rest!
Thanks for the great descriptions WinkingCat! I love how you express your feelings for each part of the process. I really like how you refer to working with clay as a progression. There are so many separate little processes that go together
Maggie T Clay invokes creative thought . When you start with a cut of clay and finish with a vessel that serves you, it is an accomplish(ment). Using my imagination to create is my favorite part. All else is learned thanks to all who have gone before us. Potters who stand out are those we wish we could pick their brains to see how they come up with all.
Maggie, this response made me consider my own process. Sometimes I get stuck in production mode and just want to finish pots to fill an order or refill my inventory. I forget one of the things that I love about working with clay, which is using my imagination. Even when I’m making multiples I can imagine new glazes or changing the angle of a rim slightly or try some slightly different texture. Or sometimes I just need a little time to explore.
LittleRiverNCpottery I love (to) unload the glaze firing. It’s all about the journey and once it’s all done you get to look back and see where you want to go next!
I love the way LittleRiverNCPottery thinks about unloading the kiln. Not only do you get that sense of satisfaction when all the work of this process comes together in something tangible, but you get to look back and see what worked or what didn’t, and then do it even better next time.
Noahkildoo_ceramics Watching the soda hit pots that are 2400 degrees
This response is a little more specific than some of the other responses. Not everyone fires their pots to 2400 degrees. Even fewer use soda when they fire. But this is one reason I love pottery so much. There are so many different options for making, finishing and firing a pot. I’ve only fired with soda a handful of times. But you pretty easily tell which of my pots were fired this way. It just adds a unique twist to what I normally make.
NoahKildoo’s response also makes me think about a part of making pots that I feel fortunate to have experience on a number of occasions now: wood firing. I’m lucky to live in an area that has at least 5 wood kilns within an hour of my house. And since potters are usually the most welcoming and generous group of people on the planet I’ve been invited to a number of firings.
In fact, during the last firing of the Notre Dame wood kiln, there were pots sent, and potters visiting, from all over the United States. Wood firing can be an incredible community event. The process, from prepping wood to loading and firing the kiln, requires a huge amount of work. Many firings span multiple days. Potters work shifts around the clock to keep the kiln firing. There are often visitors as well. It is a great place to meet and get to know fellow clay lovers. And that’s really just an indirect part of the process.
I grew up splitting wood with my dad so the wood prep always brings a smile to my face, and a workout for my muscles. Prepping pots and loading the kiln is still a learning process for me where I get to learn from legendary wood firers. The firing is also an exciting time, especially for the pyromaniacs that some potters seem to be. Processing an assortment of variables to keep the temperature rising or holding, executing the plan, and trying to keep your eyebrows and clothing from melting off is a pretty good time. And the heat! Sometimes I just like to think of the awesome amount of energy contained inside those walls. It’s like a bomb exploding in super slow motion, over a few days. And of course, opening the kiln is a thrill as well. There are so many variable and so much randomness that produce a lot of surprises, both amazing and terrible. So, if you’ve never had this chance, figure out a way to try it, or at least, visit a firing in progress sometime. I’ll try to include a few photos or videos in the show notes.
So, as I was reading through all the responses, I started to think about what I like about certain parts of the process. I love how quickly a pot can be made on the wheel. I love the way clay changes as it dries. There are so many things that can be done in the different states between fresh out of the bag and bone dry. I love the sense of accomplishment when I fill every space of a bisque load. Kiln tetris! I love the anticipation when I’m glazing pots and thinking about how they will change in the kiln. I love when my garage is cold but I get to unload pots that are still a little warm. I love taking and editing photographs to make the pots look their best. I love getting feedback on social media when I post new work. I love the validation I feel when someone hands me their hard earned cash for something I’ve created. I love taking part in this whole process and being part of an amazing community that has been making pots for thousands of years.
While I was getting this podcast ready to record, it inspired a new shirt design. If you didn’t already know, I have a small but growing collection of pottery related shirts that I’ve designed. You can order them online and they can be shipped almost anywhere in the world. To see my latest design, which is related to the topic of this episode, go to potterymakinginfo.com/shop. I’m going to make it possible to order them from a couple different places including Amazon and my Etsy shop. I’ll put links in the show notes at expertclay.com.
I also started to come up with more questions while thinking about some of these great responses. For example, what does your favorite part say about you or your personality? Has your favorite part changed? Does it depend on the form? What is your least favorite part of the process and why? Is there something you could change about your least favorite part of the process to make it more enjoyable?
I won’t try to answer these questions now. Perhaps you’ll find them on a future MudTalk Monday. Or, even better, share your answer with the rest of us now! Remember, you can share a written or verbal response at expertclay.com/mtp
Thank you for listening and supporting this podcast. In the next episode we’ll hear about what you are most proud of as a potter. Until then, stay muddy.