What happens in a class?
Students who come to a Turning Earth class will be walked through each stage of the process of making their first pieces. Class participants spend some of the time learning handbuilding techniques, and some of the time learning to use the wheel.
You will learn about preparing your clay, and techniques you can use to make forms, from pinching to coiling and building with slabs. You will also learn about the wheel, including how to centre your work, and how to begin to form the various shapes that are possible using this technique.
Making things with clay is a multi-step process. First you build things with soft clay, which is what will happen in your first couple of classes. Then you dry it until it is ‘leather hard’, at which time you can finish your decoration - which you’ll get on with from class 2. When your piece becomes bone dry (usually after a few days) you can then place it in the bisque kiln, where it will be fired to around a thousand degrees in the kiln. Your teacher will do this for you. The piece will then come out ‘bisque’ or ‘biscuit’ fired. At this stage you can apply your glaze , which is a bit like powdered glass suspended in water. At the ‘bisque’ fired stage, the clay body is still porous, and able to absorb the water, creating a thin film of powder all over the piece. It can then be fired again - this time at an even higher temperature. You will usually begin this process in your third or fourth class. Those coming for only 4 weeks may need to arrange to collect the finished work after it has been fired in the glaze kiln.
When your work is ready to be fired, there’ll be a small charge of £5 per kg for materials. For an average piece this works out at about £2.
(For environmental reasons we encourage people to - as far as possible - only fire work that they know they want to keep. Firing is an irreversible process. Clay can be recycled until it is fired; unwanted fired work can at best be used as aggregate in building supplies, but at the moment is more likely to end up in landfill.)