Tuesday, May 30, 2017

We Made Bowls!

I took Wes to a ceramics class for his 30th birthday in April, hoping that it would be something different and fun that he'd always been curious to try but would never actually do.  I kept it as a surprise - all I told him was that we were going to the Fairfax District, and that he may want to wear clothes that he doesn't mind getting a little dirty.  He probably was worried, until he found out that it was just pottery.  We were able to experiment with blocks of clay and water on the potter's wheel for the afternoon, and each picked one piece to fire and keep at the end.  Of course, being utilitarian, we both made bowls that we could use during our meals.  They turned out really nice, thank goodness.

 Wes's is the grey one with a flat bottom and curved walls, and mine is the white speckled one with a wide rim and a smaller bottom.  We've since lovingly embraced the addition of these lopsided new vessels by plating colorful side dishes inside of them (as they're both too small for main dishes).  In a way, these bowls have piqued our creativity in the kitchen more, and it makes us giddy to see the food that we cooked in the bowls that we made. 

All happiness aside, here's Wes's takeaway from his experience:  Pottery is scary.  You can do everything perfectly and then in the end it can literally all go to shit when you are making your final adjustments, after which you will need to start over from square one again.  Almost sounds like a metaphor for real life.  So about half an hour into the obsessive-compulsive task of shaping the bowl, Wes's was starting to look good.  Then, the walls were getting too high and the bottom was getting a bit thin.  With a pointy needle-like tool, he gently attempted to cut down the wall while pressing down on the foot pedal to turn the wheel.  The wall wrinkled instantly and suddenly the bowl looked like a deformed pitcher that threatened to fly off the wheel.  I was laughing then, but not anymore when something similar happened to mine.  I think I was trying to thin out my walls by squeezing them with my fingers and somehow this pressure had thrown the bowl off kilter, resulting in disaster.  Your heart literally sinks.  Our teacher calmly and matter-of-factly told us to simply scrape it off and grab a new hunk of clay.  At least the second time around, it's a lot faster and easier to get back to where you were.

We roasted some vibrantly colored root vegetables for this particular dinner.  We had walked into a ValuMart earlier that day (for the first time) and found some great prices on good produce there!  Golden beets, red beets, parsley, and more.  We also had some rainbow carrots sitting in the bottom drawer of our fridge and boniato sweet potatoes on the counter.  Inspired by something we had eaten at Animal right before the pottery class, Wes roasted the boniatos and make a spiced yogurt base to go in his bowl.  Roasted beets and onions on a bed of greens went into mine.  I think that Wes was having a little too much fun with the presentation, arranging his little colorful roots as if he were planting two little gardens.  I don't know how he just naturally makes things look so pretty...the best-looking thing that I can conceivably put together in one of these bowls is hummus.  Like, dump it in and drizzle some oil and sprinkle some spices over the top.  Done.  Anyway, it was fun and we're totally going to keep using these new pieces!

I also would like to credit Bitter Root Pottery, 7451 Beverly Blvd Los Angeles, California.  The staff did a wonderful job with teaching us and our class was really small, so we got lots of help!  They also did all the glazing (which is probably why the bowls actually turned out to be presentable).  All we had to do was shape them and pick the color we wanted and come back three weeks later to pick them up.  The anticipation was really fun!

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