I love making art out of clay, so I jumped at the opportunity to go to a summer pottery camp. Clay allows my creativity to run wild. Given a lump of bland, uninteresting clay, I can turn it into a dazzling serving plate, a favorite cup, a miniature pool scene complete with deck chairs and a cool shade-filled cave, or a useful rain gauge for my yard.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the name of this camp, “It’s a muddy world”. To be honest, it sounded a little gross to me at first. I was wondering if I’d get to make anything interesting at all. I needn’t have worried, because I ended up learning about the pottery of ancient cultures around the world, and creating works using ancient techniques, while adding my own personal flair.
First we learned about Latin America, and made sun masks. We were each given a lump of clay and a paper plate. The orangey-brown clay felt cold at first, and warmed up quickly as I flattened it with my hands. A wooden rolling pin then helped me smooth it out. I lay two long 1/4” high wood pieces on either side of the clay, to make sure I rolled the clay to the correct thickness. I had to be very careful not to tear the clay as I slid it off the table onto the round paper plate. Taking a needle tool, I cut out the outline of my sun mask. Then I cut out a ring from my spare clay, to frame the mask. Adding the ring to the mask involved scoring the back of the ring and its destination with a plastic fork, and then wetting my hands like I was putting on lotion, and dabbing the surfaces that I wanted to stick together. This process is called scoring and slipping. Next I scored and slipped on eyes, a nose and a mouth. Once it was finished, I left it overnight to dry, and painted it a few days later.
The second country was Japan and I made a lantern. Our teacher had cut out four rectangles and a square out of a light grey clay. I cut designs into the rectangular pieces, with the needle tool. Real ancient Japanese lanterns had Kanji characters, but I just did a pattern of diamonds on two of the faces, and left the other two faces blank. Some kids did more elaborate designs, like bamboo or a panda. Using the square piece as a base, I scored and slipped the four rectangular design pieces around it, to make the lantern.
Our final project was an Egyptian piece. We had the option to make either a scarab beetle or a candy dish. I chose to make a candy dish. We used a large square stamp with cutting edges to cut out a square from a 1/4” slab, and peeled off the edges. Then I chose patterned stamps, including a snowflake and one with stars and crescent moons, and pressed them around the edges of the square. The next part of the process was very interesting. I took a large sponge, put my flat plate on it, and got a large solid square stamp. I pushed this stamp gently in the middle of my flat plate, and then released it. The dish had formed, with a patterned rim. This candy dish is my favorite of the three projects.
The last day of camp was spent painting my creations, and chatting to my new friends. I accidentally broke two of the rays on the edge of my sun mask, when I was preparing to paint it. I painted the broken pieces like the rest of the rays and was planning to glue them back on after the works were fired. However, when I went to pick up my finished projects, the broken pieces weren’t there.
I really want to find an after-school pottery class that fits my schedule this coming school year, and I am willing to give up some other activities if needed.