Photos by David Wu and Jenny Swanson.
The Davidson Ceramics Studio is Dartmouth’s best kept secret: it offers students the chance to make bowls, mugs, teapots, and more on their own time, with help from professionals. The pictures below are all from last term. Now that it’s spring, the walk over will be much quicker and warmer!
For spring term hours and directions, visit the studio’s page.
We start the process by taking soft clay and forming it. This can be done on the potter’s wheel (called throwing) or by hand (called handbuilding). Learning how to make something on the wheel can be frustrating at times, but it’s a great way to get symmetrical forms. Keep in mind, though, that you won’t be making anything like you’d find at Pottery Barn: each hand made pot is unique and definitely not cookie-cutter. Many students say that working with clay at this stage is therapeutic and fun.
Next, once the clay dries for a few days, it is strong enough to be cut, or trimmed, and refined. This is easier than throwing or handbuilding, and by turning pots upside down, we can trim off excess clay and perfect our forms.
After the pot is trimmed, it is fired once in a kiln and comes out quite strong and pink. Now we can glaze it by dipping the pot into buckets of glaze. The studio has over 20 different glazes which you can use for endless combinations and decoration possibilities.
Finally, all the pots that students make are put into a larger kiln and fired over the course of 4 days at 2,350 degrees Fahrenheit! When they come out, they’re ready to be used and admired.
That was a small taste of the process of seeing a pot from start to finish. Hundreds of pots are made every term and students of all skill levels (read: beginners welcome) can come and try it out!