My art work Odds and Ends

How about this for an unusual online activity?

There are so many wonderful things to do online. Have you been sampling some? I have listened to a range of talks, from topics about mountain pygmy possums (just the cutest animals), through feral pests, to edible weeds, as well as visiting museums and galleries and attending online concerts and book launches. However, today I began what I think may be the most unusual thing to do during this period of restrictions ~ an online pottery class!

Sew-a-longs, watercolour lessons, life drawing classes all seem quite doable online, but pottery? It made me laugh every time I told someone about it, and made me smile whenever I thought about it.

Many years ago, when I was doing my teaching diploma, I sub-majored in Art, specifically pottery. I loved it, and did classes for many years after that. Life changes and goes in different directions. It’s a very equipment heavy art form; paper and paint aways seemed easier. But the idea was always there… day.

This class is organised specially for Seniors Week through my local council, for October. Our first session was this morning. I was rather flustered at the beginning as I was under-prepared. It was my own fault as I hadn’t read the emails that came last week to register my address which meant they hadn’t been able to deliver the supplies. The tutor, Vincenza, very kindly dropped off my kit last night. I didn’t realise until five minutes before logging on that there was an envelope with instructions. The Fella was highly amused to see me dashing about collecting the things I needed!

Despite that rush I had a wonderful time.

The kit had all the important things, especially the clay, already cut into useful sizes, a little container of underglaze, a rolling pin and other odds and ends.

The kit

The class met over Zoom and Vincenza took us through making slab plates. Then we had time to work on our own, asking questions as we went.

My task over the week is to make two slab plates ~ one is to be textured and on the other I am to sgraffito (draw) into the underglaze. We can attach a raised foot if we like.

First plate ~ work in progress

The texture on this first plate came from rolling the banksia cone over the clay. The darker areas are from the ink of the paper I was rolling on. Vincenza assures me that the marks will burn off in the firing.

And yes, these pieces will be fired. Firing the clay was something I was unsure about, as the logistics of it seemed daunting. It seems like Vincenza will collect all our pieces in a couple of weeks and take them to a kiln for the bisque firing. I am not sure how, or if, we will glaze them.

So, I am off on a new adventure.

I love the way people are thinking about how to do things differently, and really appreciate that this is available to me. It has already brought me joy. And did I mention that it is free?

What have you enjoyed doing online?

By anne54

Botanic artist

35 replies on “How about this for an unusual online activity?”

Oh my…now that’s going to enhance whatever you are doing…

Me thinking Ann will make frames for her postcards from the liminal time with the imprints of not just that dried up banksia. Or when she has her opening of the postcard exhibit all the cheese and crackers will be on her plates.

I of course have just been inspired by you and a friend or two in NZ to get a Gelli plate and although I’ve only just started that journey, plenty of online ideas.

I then decided I had to look at books, so into my library e-books as they are easier to get and anytime of the day/night. Both reading almost trashy novels, looking for ideas for baking/cooking and more recently ideas to extend my art-making…

I’ve still got my workshop bundle that I bought late last year, of which I’ve only made a few of the books but then today Tara Axford posted on f/b a darling little book and that reminded me that I had wanted to add to my “scroll book series” …

So much to do if you want…many art/craft tutors are finding their way onto this online system which is fun. We are so lucky to have this “world wide web” object.

Looking forward to viewing your journey – enjoy…

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The idea of have the food at my exhibition on my hand made platters made me laugh! Thanks for the encouragement πŸ˜ƒ
There are so many ideas online. In fact it turns into a worm hole, where you follow one thing, which leads to another, which leads to another, which….

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tell me about the “worm hole” and it’s not just “ideas online” but looking at what I already own “art wise/materials/tools” and the what-if (from/through online ideas) strikes me!

then I think “how hell did this happen…”

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The banksia cone was one of the things I picked up in my rush to get prepared. Luckily I have an unlimited supply of natural things, such as leaves, gum nuts and shells, to make marks with. The dish I used as a mould was another thing I grabbed as I whizzed past the Fella!

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I’d love to make myself a dish embossed with the tools of my favourite craft: scissors, needles, pins, thread, buttons, elastic, braid…. well, you get the idea! I love your natural textures, can’t wait to see what else you have for us.

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That’s a great idea, Kate. You could get some interesting textures from sewing notions. Fabrics, lace etc would make good ones too. As I said to Dawn above, the banksia cone was something I grabbed as I rushed around getting prepared. ☺️

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What a fantastic course! All credit to your local authority for providing it free to enliven these dull times. I am feeling envious! I love your plate and I can see the cross over between that and your embroidery. Please show us the second one and how things progress through the firing and glazing.

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I feel so lucky to have chanced upon the invitation. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to sign up. I will certainly show my progress. Have you found any absorbing things to do online?


My landline service was so poor I switched to a satellite service (I don’t get a mobile signal here so that wasn’t an option) which is much faster (not as fast as most people get but better than the phone line one!) and more reliable but is metered. Anything involving video gobbles up data so I avoid it. Also there is a slight lag on the timing (it’s a long way to the satellite and back!) which means the picture and sound tend to be slightly out of sync so lip reading is hard. I have found lots of inspiration in blogs and from books plus ‘I’ll have a go at that one day’ projects!

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Hi Ann! Well yet again we have more restrictions in the UK though they are keeping cafes and pubs open as well as the shops. I love that you are doing this pottery course, and for free! I did some ceramics on an art and design course when I moved to the Borders. It was what brought me back to my art. The pottery was something I took to and my favourite techniques were sgraffito and wax resist (where, as you probably know, you apply a design in wax, painting it on, dip in glaze, and the firing protects your design. I used, guess what? Seedheads all the way! Have fun :>)

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Seed heads! What a great idea! I think it is the very tactile nature of pottery that appeals to me. Is that the case for you too? I don’t remember doing much sgraffito before, but I will try it on the next plate. Fingers crossed!

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Tactile clay? Oh Wow, almost too tactile! It scared me how a little push with the fingers can impact shape so much, but it was good for me as I usually work with flat surfaces for painting. I enjoyed slab pots and ones where you use a bowl to shape the clay over it to create your own bowl – then add a lid. Not so bothered about coil pots!


Just another thing – cedar51 mentioned gelli plates. I think I have two of those, from a scrapstore here, though I haven’t looked up yet what you can do with them. Any ideas? I’ve started a new painting and want to do some printed textures on it. :>)

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Carolyn Dube – has a heap of gelli printing videos – and she is vibrant and fun. Including one that is researching which paint works best – but then qualifies that with “what you’ve looking for” …

Teresa Morgan – also a good one to look at.

Once you have the basics then just “play” – I’m still learning but I’m having a great deal of fun…wish I had more daylight hours in a day!

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As Catherine says, there are many things online. Gelli plates are very easy to use, and are very versatile. Not only can you print for backgrounds, collage etc, you can make your own stencils, or buy them, use leaves, seed heads, to make interesting textures. I make stencils from old overhead projector films.
One of the things I love about gelli plate printing is that nothing goes to waste. I keep all the scraps, the paper I clean the brayer on, etc because it will come in handy somewhere down the track.

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Ooooh – I’ve done slab work with clay before (like in the mid 1990s when I lived in Texas) and it is so fun! I love how you have embraced online learning! I need to do more of that. That is brilliant that they have online pottery classes – at first when I started reading I was thinking – so how are they going to get the piece fired in the kiln (can’t do that remotely) – looking forward to seeing how your piece evolves!

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It is those issues like firing the pieces that made the whole idea seem so way out. However, Vincenza seems to have thought all that through, and the starter pack was certainly well organised.
Did you do other hand building techniques or even the wheel when you did pottery before?

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I agree Kathy. Vincenza seems to be doing an awesome job. There are so many things that would have needed to be thought through, and she has done that so well. I am also impressed with the Council for supporting her.

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Really says something about your ‘local council’ to provide such an opportunity. Pottery is a huge under taking to learn without the barriers that COVID restrictions impose and here you even had a guy deliver your materials the night before. I am impressed with all of that! And thrilled for you to have such an opportunity to play around in another medium.
Lucky you!
I’m wondering how they’ll do the firing of your pieces…

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I was impressed too. Pottery is such an intensive process, but it seems to be working well. It also shows me that I don’t need half the stuff I thought I might need. As for the firing, I think Vincenza will pick up all our pieces and take them to a local pottery for firing. All as Covid safe as possible.

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Clay slab work sounds fun. I love your patterned plate. It’s ages since I did pottery anything… we have a few very old wonky pieces floating around the house. So far to this end, I’ve saved an email from City of Sydney Library to which I still belong about free art and maker online classes… make an origami lampshade, self-portrait drawing techniques for beginners, still-life drawing techniques (which I’d like to brush up on) and unusually… build a simple robotic hand using cardboard.

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I hope you have signed up for the robotic hand! But they all sound like fun. Self portraits have always seemed challenging. I love that these organisations are reaching out to people….and that people from around the world can access them.


I really agree about Vincenza. She is the right person for this sort of class, that needs so much more organisation. I think she is getting technical help and extra support from the Council. As for the pattern, I was lucky to have so many bits and bobs to choose from in a very short amount of time!

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