Making Pitchers and the Role of Muscle Memory


In a few short weeks, I will be getting on a plane and heading to Gulfport, Mississippi to present at the Gulf Coast Clay Conference.  Between now and then I have to pack and ship pots, determine what tools I am going to bring and remember how to throw pots.

You see its been a while since I have regularly been in the studio.  Time has just not permitted it.  But I have been sneaking in when I can and going through my repetiore of pots, seeing if I remember what I am doing.  Teapots, check. Bowls, check.  Tumblers, check. Flower buckets, check.

Last week, however, I attempted pitchers.  I make two types of pitchers.  My dancing pitcher that is really more decorative than anything else.  But it’s one of my favorite forms.  However, it is a challenge to throw and get the proportions right.

The other pitcher is what I refer to as my tulip pitcher, because that was the inspiration. That’s also a tricky form because of proportions and then the measuring and cutting. As I get ready for the clay conference, I was dreading these forms. Would I even make them?

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Last week I sat at the wheel to see if I could shake loose that muscle memory and remember how to throw these complicated forms. I tell my students, especially the beginners, that there is no substitute for time on the stool.  Your muscles have to learn a whole new way of working. And once they learn it, they have to have it drilled in their little muscle brains.

So last week was a test of how well my muscles had learned those forms, even though they hadn’t made them in months.  To my delight and surprise, the forms came together pretty well.  Not as rusty as I would have thought.

Now to go pack pots for shipping.  Never my favorite project, but I love sharing my work with others.

Staying muddy,

About the Author: Laurie Erdman has been making pots since 2003.  She discovered the joy of mud when seeking a stress release from her day job as an attorney.  Over the years she knew it helped ground her, but not more so than when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  It was then that she realized how pottery had taught her some powerful spiritual and life lessons. In addition to designing a line of nature-inspired pottery, she teaches pottery and meditation, and helps others learn the healing powers of clay. Laurie lives in Arlington, Virginia, makes pots at the Art League of Alexandria, fires her pots at Baltimore Clayworks, and enjoys spending time with her husband, her Italian Greyhound Skippy and helping people with chronic illness thrive.
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About Claytastic

Health coach. Writer. Teacher. Artist. Living an amazing life with MS. Interested in bringing peace and beauty into people's lives.
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