Wednesday, April 20, 2011


For one of my fine arts credits at Edison, I took pottery.  Ceramics I and Ceramics II: Hand-building and The Wheel. I think they were both half semester classes that lasted two or three hours long.

It was one of the greatest college courses I have ever taken. There is something so therapeutic about throwing clay around and kneading out all the air. I can remember almost every project I made in that class. Some were a bit better than others. I still have the pinch pot I made... it was one of the firsts, and would have looked significantly better if I had learned some of the techniques I learned just a few projects later.

My favorite was my teapot. I have no idea where it is. Probably crushed somewhere in storage.

I took the class with my friend Sabrina and another kid from my high school. Our teacher was Jim Wanzel, local ceramics pro and genuine hippie. He told us the craziest stories about stabbing people with pencils and how he was sure the neighbors were abusing their dogs. I'm pretty sure he had been arrested more than once, and maybe in prison a time or two... I can't remember for sure. He was a very easy going teacher, though, and I enjoyed his methods of teaching. I think we only had to write one two-page paper, and there was never any homework assignments, except maybe one vocabulary sheet, and the lectures were always spent in front of the clay.

I think our projects were our finals. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I liked that Sabrina and I could go in and change the 80s boombox stereo he had sitting in the other room to whatever station we chose. Well, Sabrina was particularly adamant that we choose 103.9 (I think) the... (what kind of music is it...) hard rock, screaming-type music. Of course, it was where I was introduced to Seven Nation Army, by the White Stripes, which is still a favorite for me today. We turned it up as loud as we wanted and no one in our class and certainly not Jim, ever told us to turn it down or try another station. 

We were allowed to do a few free-thought projects, where we could do whatever we wanted. Now I spent my time creating the cutest little turkey (recently shattered turkey... so sad) for Thanksgiving. After all, there are not nearly enough Thanksgiving decorations in the world.

While I was working on my turkey, other members of our class were working on much more interesting projects. One lady was making ceramic pieces that each had a hole at the top, where they could be strung up into a mobile. The pieces were in the shapes of a joint, a pot leaf and various other drug paraphernalia. Another person, I'm pretty sure, was creating a ceramic bong. I could be wrong... after all, this was some eight years ago, and I'm pretty positive that Sabrina, the other guy and myself were the most talented in the class. I don't know if there was anyone really skilled enough, besides Jim, that could pull it off.
But this I do know: I learned about the very special (and very superfluous) holiday of 4.20. Jim didn't seem to mind what his students were creating.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that he had mastered the ceramic drug paraphernalia long ago...although he doesn't have anything advertised on his website (that I just found). Even more, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that he and these particular students did a little "pot throwing" after hours.

I really do miss ceramics, though and I would love to get back behind the wheel and try my hand at creating another mug or bowl or something. I wasn't particularly talented at it, but 16 weeks isn't really enough time to really develop a skill.... sigh. I don't know when I will ever have access to a kiln again in my life.

1 comment:

  1. There's a few ceramics courses down at The Center. Check out the Provo Rec Dept website. I'm not sure when the next one starts, but they offer them several times a year.


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