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Course outline: The focus of the hand-building course is to assist students in developing their skills required to make pottery using hand-building methods. Students will learn the basic characteristics and working properties of clay in order to successfully join clay and handle and dry finished pieces. Techniques covered will include pinch, coil, soft and hard slab, as well as the use of such aids as hump and press molds and the clay extruder.

Our teacher is Michael Sheba who is a ceramist from Toronto. He will teach us hand building and we are doing a raku firing at the end of the week. After April hands out our tools and paperwork, we start. The week is fun: we roll tiles, pinch cups, slab build pitchers, vases and boxes and create a non functional teapot with coil building. At the end we spend a day outside in the sunshine doing a raku firing, which is a perfect way to end week one.

Some of us are already exhausted. From coiling that vase according to a template (and had to redo it numerous times because the template didn’t come near fitting), from meeting new people, getting settled, being home sick and getting used to a new rhythm.

Our class is fun. All women, some early twenties, most early thirties and forties and a few early in the fifty. Most of us are new to all of this so we take it in with surprise and are happy with any result.

The class is like a chicken coop and if you would have walked in on day two, you would have thought we all knew each other for a long time.