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updated mon 6 mar 00


elizabet on sun 5 mar 00

Hi Group:

About a year and a half ago I made a request on this
list for someone
willing to tutor me. I had been working with pottery
almost a year and
a half at that point. I was ready to begin mixing my
own glazes but was
totally unable to find the path I should follow in my
venture. I had no
official training and had never even seen a potter's
wheel. I was learning
from my many books, videos and this group. It felt
like there were SO
many voices I didn't know which to listen to and I had
way too many
questions to expect a group such as this to answer.

After my request appeared on Clayart, I had so many
wonderful offers from
generous and gracious members of this group. Among
those who offered
to help me was a 4th year grad student at Utah State
University, Alex Solla.
Many of you know Alex, no doubt. He posts on here
occasionally and I
know he is good friends and colleague with many in this

I realized just this week that I'm ready to fly alone
now. I can't begin to
tell you how much I have learned from Alex. My
interest, I thought,
was in learning about glaze materials and how to test
them. But I
learned about firing, ways to get to know my kiln, the
best places in it
to obtain certain effects I was looking for, how to
make cone packs, all
about measuring,

weighing, test both with measuring dry materials and
also by volume using
syringes and graduated cylinders, About all the oxides,
opacifiers, ways to organize my studio, function in
ways that were easier
on my body because of weakness that I have, how to do
line blends,
triaxials, quadraxials and create my own tests. I
learned how to use Insight,
was instructed in building my own pottery library, use
an extruder,
make my own test tiles, how to alter a glaze to make it
glossier, less glossy,
matte, add texture, local reduction in electric kiln,
methods of applying glazes,
way to correct glaze problems, the list goes on and on
and on.

I was impressed not only with Alex's knowledge and
willingness to share
it, but his amazing patience with my never ending
questions. We commented
often about the fact that what we were doing, learning
and teaching through
emails, was only made possible by the fact that we each
are pretty good
at communicating.

Last week I decided to dump together all my little
glasses of glaze that I
had tested in this year and a half and was surprised to
discover that I had
about eight gallons of glaze glob, which BTW, after
adjusting the thickness
and testing it, I have a really nice glaze that
resembles tortoise shell.

I started into pottery by the seat of my pants at the
age of 57.
I knew because of my age, I needed to find the right
path and not spend
years floundering

and going off into dead end paths. I have been firing
with an electric
kiln and want to continue using it for bisquing and
certain glazes
but I'm ready to launch off into gas/reduction firing.
I'm beginning to
sense enough predictability in my glazing to encourage
me and
am able to repeat forms and glaze effects, more or less
and improving.

Alex and I will continue communicating as friends and
colleagues from this
point on, hopefully learning from each other.

The purpose for this post is not so much to tell you
what I have learned
but to encourage anyone who is struggling to find their
path, is not able to
take classes and needs more help than they can get
through a group such
as this, to consider hiring a tutor. It sure helped me
and I am grateful
beyond words for all the help that Alex was to me.

I continue to read this group in digest form every day
and appreciate all
the generous folks on this list who are willing to
share even their trade
secrets and hope that I can move from the novice stage
and begin to
help anyone needing information that I have gleaned
my experience with my tutor. It's time for me to start
giving back.

Thank you, all who have helped me in this group.
Elizabeth Hewitt.....AKA, TheMudWomp