Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 178 - Mud Dabbers

What is it about creating things with our hands?  We love to do it. Becoming a creator of something instills pride or frustration based on the results.  I remember in Art class when I was in seventh grade we were given instructions about a ball of clay and asked to make something, anything. So I set out to make the best dog ever! The feet didn’t turn out right so it ended up being a snowmobile with ears!  My mother still displays this proudly at home.  I suppose out of a sense of pride and in this creation it was frustration that it caused to me.  The right thing to do is to take a class that is inexpensive and learn how to create something you never have before.

John the owner
I set out to do just this at a quaint pottery studio I happened upon on the Fourth of July when everyone else was closed.  As soon as I walked in I knew that I was in a special place.  I thanked John the owner for being open as I had passed three closed shops on the way.  He said he had been busy all day and he was staying open as long as he still had customers.  I signed up for my lesson the next day to learn how to make something “round” by using the spinning wheel.  As I looked around the store I saw a jug that had a handle like an old moonshine jug except the top half was cut out.  I thought that it was some sort of pouring device.  Easy to get the juice or tea or lemonade in from the side and pour to the other side.  When I inquired what it was, I was told it is called a johny jar.  I said, “A johnny jar, what is that?”  John told the people in the store that his father actually started making them years ago at this same store and he just recently started to make them too.  They are to set in the bathroom and put your toilet bowl brush in.  The open back lets you put the brush part in first and the closed part faces the room so people don’t know it’s a toilet brush. Brilliant!
Johny Jar
I bought a couple of items, most of them made by their middle school aged nephew.  See anyone can do it.  I loved them.  I am not going to tell you what they are because most of them are gifts for Christmas!  I arrived for my lesson and with my lesson I get to keep what I make!  So it’s a great deal.  John set out to tell me the hows and whys and he made a bowl.  Then I took my turn at the wheel.  It is harder than it looks.  He said that in art class if he was a professor, he tell me to make a thousand first and then I’d really know what I was doing.  Which really helped me the first time my wall became too thin and the top fell apart and flew off the wheel!  John caught it and we started with a new ball of clay again.  The second time, the top collapsed so he fixed that and was able to salvage it.  I ended up making a flower pot with an attached base for the overflow of water to drain into. 

John's Bowl
My Flowerpot

Throwing and tossing and slapping the slab clay

Slab of Clay and Horse Chestnut Leaf

Press Veins down on clay

Pat and Roll it and Mark it with a B

And put it in the oven for BJ and me!

I just posed, John did all the work!

I chose a brown glaze and the ridges will show through goldenrod.  Every other leaf will be unglazed.

I chose a Gold color for this Flower Pot
Then John taught me how to make slab bowls.  Basically you flatten the clay, you can put impressions before molding, so we went outside to get a Horse Chestnut Leaf.  It was huge, about ten inches tall and seven inches wide.  We rolled the vein side down on top of the clay with a rolling pin and then set the clay in a dish covered with a paper towel.   John trimmed it up for me and we used a sponge to soften the ages just like we had done with the bowls on the wheel. So the tools you need are a ball of clay, a bucket of water, a sponge, a rolling pin, a cloth, paper towels and a bowl already made to shape it over.  He explained that the clay shrinks so we couldn’t drape the excess clay over the edge so that it would then crack at the top. 
The process to then finish off the bowl takes about three weeks.  So for the price of the lesson, I get to keep a flower pot and a bowl.  A beautiful bowl.  We then picked out the color glazes by already finished maple leaves that have the glazes on them.  He finishes the bowls and then ships them to you.
I could have made more but I felt pretty proud of my flower pot and wanted to leave on a high note! I knew I better quit while I was ahead.  After all I only had 999 more to go before I will know what I’m doing!
If you’re in Asheville, NC, take the short drive to Brevard to Mud Dabbers, they are on Facebook, just call ahead of time if you want to take a class!

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