Workshop with Tortus

It’s the post we’ve all been waiting for! I have finally had my workshop with Eric Landon (tortus)! This workshop was held in Brooklyn, New York, at a community ceramics studio named Choplet. The workshop went from 9am-4pm, on Monday and Tuesday. Oh how I wish it lasted longer! When I first arrived at the studio, I have to admit I was a bit starstruck. I have been following Eric’s Instagram account for a long time, and am constantly admiring his work and throwing skills.  To see him in person, and know that I was learning from him was just amazing.

The first thing he had us do was throw a cylinder. This is the first basic form to master, in order to make other, more complicated forms. First, he did a demo, and then had us give it a go. I was elated when he came over to me and said he was impressed with my cylinder! From there I continued to throw more cylinders, and then cut them in half in order to check the thickness of my walls. I have only done one other workshop before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Eric only gave his input when you asked for it, or if he saw you doing something that wasn’t working. This was really nice, because he wasn’t breathing down your neck the entire time. Throughout the workshop, he would demo a form or technique, and then have us work on that form for the next hour or so.

Watching Eric throw was such a crazy experience. The way he handles the clay and manipulates it, is something you’ll only see when in the presence of a master. The clay responded to his hands as if they had a mutual understanding- which they did. Eric would stop to explain what he was doing and why. It was always so eye opening to hear his reasoning of why he was going about the process like he was. For instance, when he starts a pull, he starts it from the wheel head. This is because it allows you to get the most clay possible and bring it upward. He also made note that you have to let the clay do what it wants- aka- flare at the top after a pull. Let the clay do what it wants, and correct it afterwards.

I learned so many new techniques from this workshop, and I’ve already implemented them and seen the changes in my throwing abilities. It was interesting to learn from someone else, because every single potter has a different throwing technique. So far the technique I’ve developed on my own through my years of throwing are most conducive to the way Eric throws. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take videos of him throwing (which is fine, we payed a lot of money for this workshop and if he posted videos of him doing all of his techniques specifically, there wouldn’t be need for the workshop) but I took a lot of pictures. I also took some notes, and I can’t wait to reflect on this experience every time I’m in the studio.

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