Working Off the Hump

Mid-Summer                                                                                  Waning Honey Flow Moon

Potting, something done for thousands of years by diverse human communities, is hard.  At least for me.  Kate seems to be getting it.  We have a 6,000 year old Chinese pot at the MIA that is one of my favorite pieces in the museum.  It is not easy and especially not easy to turn out something so pleasing in shape, execution and overall proportions.

We start at 10 am at the Northern Clay Center. Leila Denecke, our teacher and a veteran potter, gives us a demonstration.  This morning she showed how to make a honey pot.  She throws “off the hump” which means that she actually throws the object on a larger hunk of clay known as the hump.  This raises the level of the piece on which the potter works, an advantage in itself, and allows for following one piece with another and another, using clay from the same hump, working down from the top.

Like most expert artists her hands work the clay with ease, as if any one could do it.  From a lump of clay, literally, she fashions a small jar with a slight belly and a flanged mouth.  With her wire tool she cuts its off the hump, raises the hump higher by creating a cone and creates a flanged top for the jar with a small handle.

After the demonstration we go back to our wheels.  Most of the class, experienced potters, then try to reproduce whatever Liela has shown us how to make.  Refinement of their craft with feedback from a pro is why most of the students are in this class.

Hands slick with slip we work at our various levels, one woman has her own studio, has had for twenty-five years, another sells work at art fairs, yet another came up here all the way from South Miami.  It’s a varied group, 6 women, myself and Patrick.  We’ve bonded a bit and will share a meal tomorrow.