Ceramics is NOT going well.

This is gonna be a grumpy one, sort of. Be ready.

So for that past 3 days I have been in the studio. So far I have glazed 10 bowls, 8 christmas ornaments and finished up 3 pitchers. I have thrown NOTHING on the wheel, but not for a lack of trying.

I’ve probably attempted to throw over 65lbs of clay on the wheel in the past three days (not all at the same time of course). And all I can think about, the entire time, is my professor.

“That looks fat”
“That form is weak”
“You are a rank amatuer”
“You never try anything new”
“Your marks are boring”
“That lip’s too thin”
“That pot’s too heavy”
“That’s a newbie mistake”
“You need to experiment”
“Why did you do that if you haven’t tested it”
“You need to invent something new”
“You aren’t here to be a production potter”
“You’re going to fail my class if you don’t speed up”
“You should handbuild that”
“Why haven’t I seen a drawing for this”
“Don’t draw things out, just make them up”
“You need to be more aggressive”

With all this running through my head, I have ripped, messed up, or destroyed everything I have attempted to throw in the past week. 10 hours of studio time, wasted because my prof has beaten me to a pulp over the past semester.

Come to think of it, I haven’t met a single teacher at this school who knows how to give positive reinforcement. They all focus on the mistakes, so you never have any idea what you did right. Even when I do get a positive comment it’s double sided. “That looks good, but it would be a lot better if you did this.”

So, I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do for the rest of this semester. If I can’t figure out how to throw something here soon I’m not going to pass this class. At this point, I don’t really care, but it will make signing up for classes next semester much harder and they might put me on academic probation, which could be a huge pain in the ass.

Wish me luck.



15 Comments Add yours

  1. James Gielow says:

    Hang in there Ben. I had a painting professor in college that used to ride my ass all the time. Nonstop. Pretty much verbatim of what your getting. At one point we sat in his office of pompous douchery and had a long talk. He got so close to talking me into dropping out of college. Closer than any other person or frustration ever did. I was a so so student at that point. Going to college because my family expected it. After that chat, I took a week off and just worked full time. One night, I had a cathartic conversation with myself. Really tore at the core of who I was and where I was going. I decided that I wanted to finish school, but for myself, not anyone else. It completely changed my drive. I went back in and aced his petty little painting 101 course. I also ended up graduating on the dean’s list too. My point is, fuck that guy. And the rest of your over critical professors. They work for you. To make you a better, smarter, more creative version of yourself. If they are failing at that, give them the business! Put his ass on the potters wheel, hold your hand out and allow his face to be slapped as he spins around.

    1. The imagery you described is quite amusing.

      I’ve already decided I’m leaving school, but not because of my prof, I’m leaving because it’s too expensive and it’s not going to help my chances of success at all. She’s just been driving me to leave sooner.

  2. cecilia says:

    ‘Scuse me saying but I think your professsor is a jerk, and for the record I LOVE wonky bowls with fat lips and if they fire nicey with wild clashing out of control glazes I would buy them! Sod ‘im thats what i say.. keep throwing the pots you want to throw.. make cups without handles,, easier and warm your hands while you drink.. (I will buy those too!) .. have fun.. c

    1. Thank you! I’m hoping to get more things done. I really want to make more, I just need to get her out of my head!

      1. cecilia says:

        Give her the boot.. and NEVER give her time in your head again.. nasty woman.. c

  3. cecilia says:

    PS I am deeply envious of your Wheel.. How is the farm search going?

    1. It’s going okay. Right now we are just waiting out the winter. When spring hits we will start officially looking for a place. For now, we must wait out our apartment lease.

      1. cecilia says:

        More time to save.. goodoh.. c

  4. TwoGingers says:

    We haven’t spoken in a while but these posts are so disheartening to me. I still have the bowls you helped me to throw and Pi always commented on how my bowls reflected yours after that and I think they look wonderful. In the end do what makes you happy, sell what people love, and I personally think people love what you make. Myself included.

    1. Thank you. I would just say don’t go to the school I did if you want a grad degree. I’ll be fine, I just need to get out on my own and do my own thing. I thought that’s what grad school was all about, but apparently I was wrong.

  5. msh says:

    The joy of pottery/ceramics is that YOU set your design. YOU have your own vision. If your professor wanted everyone’s creations to look the same then she’s just killing creativity. There are some definites that need to be learned, like how to handle the clay so it peforms for you, how to prevent cracking, glaze issues etc but design? That’s up to you. And I’ve found that the stronger you defend your item, “I like it that way”, or “I wanted it to look like that” goes a long way.

    I often go to galleries and think… wow, that is one weird piece, I’d never make it like that but I can appreciate the artist’s point of view.

    My daughter had a professor in photography who about destroyed her love of photography. It was only after she decided that her viewpoint was valid did she really succeed.

    And the only bad part about having 65 pounds of clay end up back in the bucket is the reclaiming of the clay. I hate reclaiming clay! lol

    Best of luck with your work and decisions.

    1. Thank you. We’re still stuck in this struggle, playing the game “who’s opinion matters”. Basically I’m given the chance to voice my opinion, but then I’m just told it’s wrong. I haven’t said one thing this semester that was right.

      My prof’s problem is she only knows how to give negative feedback. The only thing she’s inspired me to do this semester is quit.

  6. hmalapanis says:

    Your professor sounds like he needs a different creative outlet, since pottery obviously isn’t having a mellowing effect. I loved those bowls you posted pictures of a few weeks (months?) ago. Absolutely beautiful.

    1. Thank you. She’s very tight about how she works and about how things are made. I don’t think it leaves a lot of room for creativity, but I’m not the teacher I suppose.

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