Crafting Goals

This week is a good week.  It has hardly started, but I can tell it’s going to be a good one… That’s because Pottery Class starts this week!!!

Clay ready for the kiln. 2009

I love all the crafting I do.  But I really love pottery.

Throwing clay on a pottery wheel is like meditating.  I have a colleague who pots and she explained it as follows: throwing clay requires 80 percent of your attention.  That leaves only 20 percent of your brain power to think about other things.  Which means you can’t think about much else. So it’s a form of forced meditation.

That’s as just an explanation I can think of.  I love plugging into some music or turning on the CBC and just having my hands on clay for a couple hours.  It gets everywhere, in my hair, it drips up to my elbows, my jeans get caked in it, and I inevitably have some smeared on my face by the end of a session.

I’ve been taking courses in the evening for about two years now, and at the beginning of each course, my teacher asks us what our goals are for the semester.  There is no pressure, but she says it’s a good idea to think about what we want to accomplish in the 11 weeks we have unlimited access to clay and to the studio.  I agree.

Last semester my goals were to turn thinner and spend more time decotrating my pieces like so:

I carved the waves after putting a layer of pigmented clay over the red clay.  I am very pleased with the result.

Last fall I was speaking with some colleagues about my pottery goals and they laughed, saying I should relax when I’m doing my hobbies and didn’t need to set goals for myself.

They are right, I don’t need to, but I want to.  I craft because I love it, but part of the pleasure is learning a new skill, getting better over time.  Besides, Pottery is so technical there is much to learn.  The least I can do is try to get a wee bit better each semester.

If I don’t take the time to make a list of the things I want to make, I find myself at the end of a semester and haven’t made all the little gifts I wanted, or tried a new project I meant to.

So here’s my list for this year.  It will get longer.

1- Make more of these: 

These are little pots I turn using a technique I learned last semester.  I make the bottom and the lid at once and with a little finishing work they fit perfectly together.  This one is quite small, only about eight centimeters in diameter, so I want to try to throw bigger ones.

2- Make plates.  Big ones.  Dinner plates.  With a nice lip, and well glazed so food doesn’t stick too much.

When you throw a piece it looses 12 to 13 percent of it’s size as it dries and is kilned.  I’ve often found myself thinking a bowl is nice and big this time, but by the time I’m ready to bring it home, it’s just another latté bowl.

3- Continue experimenting with designs and details.  Concentrate on quality and detail of my pieces reather than quantity.

4- Make a big bowl (that stays big, even once it’s kilned).  If possible I would like to try to throw six or seven pounds of clay.  That’s a lot of clay to centre, so I’ll have to pick my day and try when things are going well.

5- Work with more red clay.  I prefer the result of the glazes.

The colours are so much more vivid than on the greyish clay I normally use.

6- My last goal for now is to make more little things, little pots for mixing spices, mugs that aren’t necessarily giant tea mugs like I’ve gotten into the habit of making, or a little garlic pot like the one I made a year ago.

Those are my goals for now.  I’m sure I”ll come up with more as the weeks roll by.

Do you set crafting goals? If you do, what are they? Or am I just a little crazy?

Thanks for stopping by,

-marika

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One Way to Make a Nine-Patch Block

Over the Christmas holidays I went to my parents place for a few days.  I packed a few (nine) fat quarters and decided to haul out my mom’s machine start making a new quilt top.

At first, I planned to go to a quilt shop nearby to buy enough fabric to finish a project.  Unfortunately the store was closed for two weeks.

But that didn’t stop me.  I started making a nine-patch quilt using the fabric I did have.

The plan is to make a quilt that looks something like this. But much bigger, with different colours, and a wider boarder.

The more I quilting I do, the more I realize it is all about shortcuts.  That may make me a lazy quilter, but means I generally finish projects rather than get annoyed or tired of them.

Here are the shortcuts I took in making my nine-patch block.  I have no idea if this is how most people make nine-patches, but as I’ve learned to quilt on youtube, a couple books, and by asking a lot of pesky questions to nice ladies in Cape Breton, I’m pretty happy I figured this out by myself.

First I cut strips (2.5″ by 10″) and (2.5″) squares.

For any given square I would pick two strips.

Sew. Press seams flat.  In some quits you press seams to one side or another.  Generally you always press towards the darker fabric (so you don’t see it through a light fabric).  Having both layers of the seam to one side can make it easier when it comes to hand quilting, as you want to have to push your needle through the least amound of fabric (resistance) as possible.

Once the 10″ strips are sewn together, cut into four 2.5″ sections.

Arrange three sections horizontally so the colours alternate.  The fourth section is placed vertically.  Pick one of the 2.5″ squares to complete the nine-patch.

Depending what square you use to complete the block, the fabric in the centre will change. Like so:

I liked this one, so I sewed the three sections on the left together, as well as the section on the right to the square.

One more seam to go:

With the nine fat quarters I had, I made 54 blocks.  I’m going to need 90.  I ordered the rest of the fabric I need for this quilt and it arrived this weekend.

I opted for a jelly roll rather than more fat quarters so I would have a greater variety of fabrics.  The other fabrics from bottom to top will be for the batting, sashing, borders, and binding.

Once I finish machine-quilting (or need a break from quilting) my stacked coins quilt I started in May, I’ll work on this one.  I’m trying very hard not to have too many WIP on the go at once.

Thanks for stopping by.

-marika