Friday, August 26, 2011

Playing in the mud

Last weekend a rift opened in the spacetime continuum - it was not all about food.  It was about clay, and I was arse-deep in it, literally - my beloved 'pottery pants' (old-as crappy faded jeans) wore themselves a hole in the gluteus.  And of course, me being me, I sat that hole down in a puddle of watery clay, giving myself a nice cold clay bath all the way to my birthday suit, in front of a boatload of people that I had just met.  Faaaaantastic.

But good things happened too - we had a two-day workshop at the Wellington Pottery Club, learning about sgraffitto!  Which is basically graffti on a pot, doodles in clay.  And if there's one kind of drawing I'm good at, it's doodling.  And boring meetings are my muse.  There really is no better time to think and draw than when you're actually supposed to be concentrating on what someone is saying!  Just don't ask me to repeat anything...

A major accomplishment for me this weekend was throwing something bigger than a shot glass.  I've been doing pottery courses for 8 months or so, and everytime a coconut my stuff turns out so damn small that all it's good for is holding tomato sauce.  But this time, under the sharp eye of Vivian Rodriguez, potter in residence and neighbour extraordinaire (true story, we send each other flashlight messages at night through our bedroom windows) I was actually able to throw something usable - plates!  And these plates really begin life as big bowls, so I suppose you could add that to my repertoire as well.  Great, now I'm up to thimbles, plates and big ol' honkin bowls!
An infant sgraffito'd plate starts out life as a bowl.

Look Mom, I can throw bowls!
 After they've dried a bit, you have to do a bit of hard labor to make the slip that will be the colored part of the pot.  This is where you can take out a lot of pent up agression and frustration.  In some ways pottery is therapy.  I spent at least an hour (1) banging a rolling pin over some dried clay, bludgeoning it into a fine powder; (2) mixing in the colored stain, (3) adding warm water and stirring til it reached thick-frosting consistency (my recent cupcake efforts came in handy here!), and (4) the worst part: straining the mixture through the finest sieve-thing ever possibly made, three times.  Holy crap it was a pain in the ass trying to persuade beat-up clay through fine mesh multiple times.  Hopefully it was worth it.  I picked some vibrant colors for these jobbies, no fussing around with subtlety for me!

This plate will be cobalt blue, supposedly.  My first attempt at scratching designs turned out pretty geometric, and I thought a little basic, but I was quite surprised how good it looked when I was done.  Sometimes simple is better!

Second plate: inside will be Sea Blue, outside will be Pea Green.  The swirls are kind of "my thing".  I love the organicness (is that a word?) of them, and they can never really be symmetric so there's no worry about even trying to make them even.  I just fill all available space with pretty spirals, and it works!  This plate is now my baby, I ain't never gonna give it up.  It's going straight to the pool room!  This is how they looked at the end of the weekend, and I still can't believe that I made them.  I'm pretty sure some alien abducted my hands during this whole thing actually.

Not too shabby!  They still have to be bisque fired, sprayed with clear glazed, and fired a final time, but I'm already proud of my lil bowlie-plate things!

In other news, we partook of Wellington on a Plate's burger challenge at Cafe Polo in Miramar and then I had a food baby.  Cafe Polo lost last year by one vote, one stinkin vote!! So I made sure I texted my vote in right there at dinner, courtesy and convention be damned!  I'm sayin, I have never been so in love with a vegetarian anything, it was uh maze ing.  A patty of four cheeses, beetroot, aoili, and some other non-meaty things, accompanied by truffled fries.  Yeah, food baby FTW!

Also, I made Cookies & Cream cupcakes (from Bakerella, of Cake Pops fame) for the pottery workshop's shared lunch.  They were such a hit, they decided to put them in next month's newsletter!  And they were also deemed "very American" - apparently putting Oreos in baked goods is Yank territory.  Good thing I'm American then, coz I love me some Oreos.  I can down a pack by myself no question, and my mom used to have to hide them from me when I was a kid.  My favorite thing to do was pry the cream off the biscuit and add it to another cream to make the ultimate-stuf Oreo, as many layers thick as possible.  Yummmm. 

More like yum times a million.  That is all.

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