Keeping Crafty: A Pinch Pot

Recently Scott came to me with the idea to start taking pottery lessons. His friend, Rob, had been going to the pottery workshop for about a month, and coincidentally, it was right down the street from Scott’s apartment! About a twenty minute walk away, right across the boulevard from the ever mysterious Musildong prison. To top it all off, the pottery teacher had taken in a stay cat, who one day came home pregnant, which means…KITTIES. KITTIES EVERYWHERE.

Must…resist…urge to adopt…!

Needless to say, I was racing to the door the minute he brought it up. Pottery? Kitties?? Convenient location but mostly KITTIES?! DONE. (The mom cat, Yangi, has a stump tail…which means some kittens have stump tails, and one even has a pom pom tail! A POM POM!)

The pottery teacher, Mia, is a lovely woman who spent 25 years living and working in the U.S. She roamed from city to city before finally returning to Korea to open her own workshop. Her English is excellent (what luck!) and she is positively the sweetest lady ever. Most of all, she believes in giving her students freedom to experiment however they like. Unorthodox clay and glaze combinations? Go for it! Personal projects? Experiments in form? Yes, yes! It’s all a breath of fresh air and I couldn’t be happier.

Yi Hua Gong Bang
Yi Hua Gong Bang
Beautiful works in the window
Beautiful works in the window
Previous students' work
Previous students’ work

So far, Scott and I have only had two lessons. Mia provided each of us with a folder, some blank paper, and dedicated shelf space. The cost of the course is 100,000 won a month, which includes the cost of clay and glaze. At the end of the month, we’ll check out folders to count up how many projects we’ve fired, and she’ll add a firing fee. Pretty fair, for classes twice a week!

Since our hands get very messy during the lesson, I can’t take any pictures of the process. I do have photos of the progress we made at the end of each lesson, though!

Our first project is making a pinch pot. Mia cut off about 1kg of clay for each of us, then put it in our hands, instructing us to pound it into a ball. The moment I touched the cool clay, I had the most inspiring feeling welling in my palms. The texture was so cool and smooth! When I told Mia this, she said that she still remembers the first day she ever had clay in her hands, as she had the exact same feeling. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it, either.

Starting with a ball of clay, we pushed a hole in the centre of the clay (my thumbnails gouged the sides and became crammed with clay…oops!) and squeezed it up into a cup. Well, it was supposed to be a cup, before I pinched it too big. Now it’s a bowl.

Phase one
Phase one
Interior design
Interior design
Scott's Pot
Scott’s Pot

A few days later, the pots had dried into the “leather hard” stage – not squishy anymore, but still soft enough to cut. It felt like cutting chilled butter. This session, we trimmed the bowls into a cleaner shape.

Scott's bowl - trimmed
Scott’s bowl – trimmed
My bowl - trimmed
My bowl – trimmed

Trimming turned out to be really stressful because I kept worrying that I would trim right through to the other side and make a hole in the bowl. I had made some parts too thick and some too thin, which made the trimming a little tricky. I think I was trimming a bit too timidly (“I’m scared!” being the popular phrase of the night), because eventually Mia had to come to the rescue and carve out the inside for me. We were there until her friend came by with some veggies for their dinner! Luckily, we finished just in time, and her friend gave us a lift home in the rain. What a nice guy!

All in all, I really loved it, and can’t wait to be back in the studio. Next we’ll be firing and glazing these bowls, then we’ll start some coil work! Whoo!!

The  lovely Mia in her studio <3
The lovely Mia in her studio ❤

2 thoughts on “Keeping Crafty: A Pinch Pot

  1. Clay! My most prized artwork was a horsehead I made in high school but never got to see. The teacher remembered seeing it in the kiln but then it got stolen thereafter. This workshop looks like a gem!


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