Saturday, July 24, 2010

My Personal Creativity Challenge

I recently read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (as I've mentioned before), and I really took a lot of things she says to heart. One of her prescriptions for happiness is to learn something new, and I certainly find that I always feel more energetic and happy when I am acquiring a new skill or knowledge, so I decided to spend some time this summer learning something I've always wanted to learn.

Since I'm interested in creativity and artistic skill these days, I decided to try my hand at an artistic endeavor - namely, pottery. I enrolled in an adult pottery class that meets once a week near my house, and I am totally in love with it. Most of the people in my class prefer hand building, but I am determined to learn to throw pottery on the wheel. There is something so metaphorical about it for me - I love to have my hands in the Earth getting dirty, and I love how you must always be centered in order to be successful, and how every piece starts out the same, as a big mound of clay, and yet it can be turned into anything you can imagine.

Yesterday I got back my first batch of completed pieces:

Bess used this bowl for her breakfast this morning, and I decided to photograph it that way so as to cleverly disguise how horribly off-center it is! I dropped my hole somewhere not even close to the middle, which resulted in a very imperfect piece. Oh, well.

This is my second bowl. Much better, but still not great. When you lift your piece (in other words, when you build the sides on the wheel - you gotta have the lingo!) it has a tendency to go outwards into a bowl shape, though your goal is to lift it straight up. I am still struggling with that. This bowl was supposed to be a vase. Yesterday I threw five or six bowls, so we'll see how they come out once their fired and glazed.

So far, this beauty is my masterpiece. (I did the glazing freehand, in case you were wondering.) The idea was for this to be my morning coffee mug, but this morning I was too afraid to use it. There is a small crack in the bottom because I made it too thin. The teacher says the glaze fills in the crack so it will be water-tight, and I guess there's only one way to find out. Maybe tomorrow.

I've also made a commitment to work on my sewing skills. Let me rephrase that, because from that sentence you might conclude that I actually have some sewing skills. I should say: I have made a commitment to develop some sewing skills. I took the book Stray Sock Sewing by Daniel (yes, that's the author's name, like Madonna or Cher) out of the library and tried the simplest pattern it contains:

Not so bad for a first try, right? There are a few rookie mistakes, like I didn't turn the sock inside out before cutting and sewing and I didn't turn the heel the right way so he has a crazy punk haircut instead of ears, but all in all I'm pretty satisfied with him.

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