Raised with art around me.
I was raised in an ordinary house with extraordinary parents. My dad was a policeman, an ambulance driver and a handy man; in my little eyes the best and biggest man out there. He loved music and had a beautiful voice himself. Everyone always asked him to sing and his favorite was “O Solo Mio”. There was sweetness in his voice, the same sweetness that Mario Lanza was known for.
My mom made the best food and clothes and she had a musical sound in her laugh that was infectious. I recall people talking about her artwork and her stories that she wrote and I remember she was the best story teller and the best painting artist that I knew.
Through my parents eyes and ears I learned to appreciate Michael Angelo (we had a thick book about his life and career on our coffee table) and Tchaikovsky.
I was an all-rounder in school. A little sport, a little singing and recitation, writing and whatever a young girl could do to impress teachers and peers. I even tried to paint, but failure convinced me that painting was not my forte!
I was already married when my husband and I were passing a gallery one day. I saw beautiful stone – like objects through the window and it drew me like a magnet pass the door. After a conversation with the gallery owner, I found out it was called pottery. At the time I knew nothing about clay; not where it came from, not how it gets hardened by heat and where the shiny glassy layer came from. At the time I never imagined in my wildest dream that ceramics would become my life long career, that I will still be learning about pottery 40 years later, teaching porcelain and pottery and exhibit my work in galleries and museums around the globe.
For a time after my gallery education, I traded cheap slip cast ornamental objects from hawkers that wondered our streets in search of old clothes and household items. I was so ignorant about clay, that the molded and copper painted horse Plaster of Paris sculpture that hung on my wall for a long time, became my biggest treasure!
It took another year or so before I had my first pottery class in Evander South Africa.
My first pottery lessons.
During those first 6 months of my career in 1981 when I learned the very first steps in making pottery, I never learned to take clay beyond the forming process. I never learned finish the clay correctly and anything about glazing and firing clay. I did however learned that clay shrinks about 25 % (which is not always true), so when I made my first pencil holder, I made holes the size of broomsticks – they were supposed to shrink, right!
The teacher was not too eager to teach me, so my first ashtray (my husband and I were not a smokers, but it was still the fashion of the day) was so heavy and unfinished, I could kill a deer with it.
I had to stop throwing on the wheel when I got pregnant with Linkie. My pots were so drunk and I was so sick, the two just did not go along with each other. It was then that my dear husband told me that he will eat his hat if I ever become a potter!
It would take me another 2 years before my career took off…
How did pottery begin : A little speculation in Pottery history
Fragments of ancient pottery were found in southern China that is estimated to date as far back as 20,000 years ago. Clay was used for housing for thousands of years, but the first signs of using it for water and food, dates back to about 10 000 years.
It is said that in prehistoric times, clay (which is earth that has a plastic workable quality) was originally roughly shaped and used unfired to hide food from predators. People then soon discovered that water last a little longer in a mud container and that food stayed fresher in a clay hive. It is been said that someone dropped a clay object in a fire one day and it came out hardened. The first pottery was created.
What to expect from your first pottery classes.
I often hear potters telling me that they are not sure if their teacher provide in their needs as far as instruction goes.
It is true that some instructors are more interested in the income or the opportunity to use the facilities that is available. There are also instructors that are simply just not qualified.
Here are a few things that beginner pottery students can ask / observe from their instructor before signing up for a class to see if the class may serve them.