Helping Out i

This evening I stayed in the department in order to better understand how an evening class works – and to give Margo a hand with it. Earlier in the day I’d been to the Mingle event, where she explained to me the way that the ten-week course in structured and held. The course is currently in its fifth week, she told me, so students would be focusing on throwing new vessels or turning ones made the week before. 

There was a lot to do in preparation for the class! I had already arrived early and started cleaning the sink and the surrounding area, but I later found out that the sink needed a rather more thorough cleaning than I had imagined.

Many clay bags had to be taken out of the clay storage, each with a student’s name on it (a bag of LF clay was included in the course supplies); some students from the Thursday class were going to be there, so I also had to find their bags from the separate Thursday pile and take those too. Then the sink had to be cleaned until spotless (a very fiddly task!!), and a bucket was placed in the sink for reclaim clay to fall into when students were washing their hands.

Excess items left behind by college students, such as personal tools or waste clay, were moved to the shelves just outside of the throwing room. After that, it was important to find the vessels that students had been working on previously. The storage of these items meant there was a plastic bag in which the vessels were placed (and sealed), while supported by a board beneath them. This meant the board would not become damp, as there was a layer of plastic between it and the clay. Name labels were kept inside the bags to stop any confusion (them fluttering away). It was a lot of work finding all the right pieces for who was there that night!

When the students arrived, I set about going from person to person, asking if any particular assistance was required – unless specifically asked by Margo to do a particular task. One such task was to throw a simple chuck (donut-shaped) on the central unoccupied wheel, on which students could then turn their work. I had to adjust it now and then for the students, so that their work would fit it better. It was very exciting to feel directly helpful like that.

What surprised me the most this evening was how the [adult] students were very shy to ask for help, compared to my previous experiences with children, who are inquisitive and constantly ask questions which always somehow require your immediate attention.


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