Throwing clay is nothing like I expected. it’s not like freeform painting where you can just do it any way your spirit wants. There’s a method, a very important one! Last month when I visited Sedona, one of my stops was at the Sedona Arts Center, where I took a ceramics class with instructor, Dennis Ott. Before I go into the clay metaphor that changed my life, let me tell you a bit about the place.
The Sedona Arts Center sits in the heart of the city and is a venue where Sedona artists and art aficionados come together. From photography and writing to sculpture and filmmaking there’s a lot to choose from. The biggest part of those offerings is the ceramics portion.
The art space used to be an apple packing barn until it was purchased in 1958 and turned into the arts center. The place oozes with character and history!
Dennis led us on a tour through the facility, they didn’t have classes that day so we had the whole place to ourselves!
They have kilns galore!
We started with Jamaican Red clay. We cut off blocks, then rolled them into balls.
Learning to throw clay
Dennis took some time to show us how to center the clay. I was such a dork. The first time, I forgot to turn off the wheel – so my ball of clay went flying. The second time I threw it, but not hard enough. I was having trouble getting a grip. THEN Dennis told me something that I’ll never forget…
“Centering this ball of clay is like centering life. You have to grip one side firmly with one hand, and then press down on top with the other hand. YOU have to control the clay to get it centered, otherwise the clay will control you. Once you master that, everything else will fall into place.”
Once I put my mind to it and really laser-beamed focused on centering the clay, I did it. “I control the clay,” I thought. Not once did I center it, but twice. And now, every time in daily life when things get wonky, I think of Dennis telling me: “YOU control the clay or the clay will control you.” and I then think, “How can I take control of this situation and center it?”
Look it how messy it is, both DeAngelo and I got wet clay all up our arms and even our clothes. Messy is good!
Here are our finished pieces. Of course, Dennis’ is the most fancy. He let me take it home and glaze it. DeAngelo did a great job and says he found a new art form!
Here is Dennis about to buy the masterpiece bowl I made. Just kidding! He was getting one of his business cards! LOL!
Here is my set I made after I let it dry and then fired it.
Then I used Duncan Cover Coat Underglazes to add color and fired it again! They came out beautiful, I’ll forever remember the experience of making them!
I had such a great time, if you ever go to Sedona, check out the classes offered at the Sedona Art Center. They have weekly classes, retreat, private lessons and more. I highly recommend taking a class from Dennis. He not only knows all about the art of ceramics, but you can see that he truly LOVES sharing all he knows. He really breaks it down step-by-step to make it easy to understand so its fun and not stressful.
Plus, it’s in Sedona, it’s beautiful and you are constantly surrounded by art!
Thank you again so much to the city of Sedona for hosting us for the weekend. We’ll be back soon! Here’s a cool video all about the Center!