Functional Pottery Series – Session 3

Course Instructor

Kara Bledsoe

Available Fall 2019

Course Information

Functional pottery classes focus on creating pieces made for use rather than for decoration. You may choose from any of these sessions or all three depending on what you wish to create.

Additional Class Information
Session I, is geared toward learning the basic bowl forms, trimming bowls, altering, and decorating techniques. Each class in the session will include a demo from the instructor as well as guided wheel time.

In Session II, students learn the basics of creating mugs and cylinders on a potter’s wheel. Classes will include lessons on the basics of throwing cylinders into different forms, and decorating techniques. Each class will include a demo from the instructor as well as guided wheel time.

In Session III, students will learn the basics of throwing plate forms and matching sets. As well, students will learn to combine other forms with plates to create serving trays and casserole dishes. Each class will include a demo from the instructor as well as guided time on the wheel.

The Functional Pottery classes take place twice a week for six weeks usually in the spring semester. This provides more intensive learning for students and helps with remembering skills taught in the previous class. Your registration covers at least 25 pounds of clay, glaze, sculpting tools, a wheel, and use of the kiln. Your class will be led by experience potter, Kara Bledsoe, who demonstrates excellent pottery making in a calm and nurturing environment.

If you have never touched a potter’s wheel, expect a real learning experience. During your first class Kara will instruct you on the type of clay you will be using and how to cut and wedge it for the wheel. You will also learn basic terminology like, “wedging,” which means to knead the clay and make it supple for use. Kara loves to take the time to thoroughly demonstrate the wheel-throwing process including, centering, opening, raising, shaping, and removing a vessel from the wheel. You will then have time to practice what you learn at your own pace.

Kara has been teaching and studying pottery for many years and is known for her willingness to experiment with forms, styles, and glazes. She brings this excitement to her classes and makes the pottery making process look simple. However, a beginner should not expect throwing to come easy at first. Through practice, a willing student will become skilled at demonstrating the techniques show to them. Students should dress in entire that they do not mind getting dirty. The first few classes will be challenging and messy but do not get disheartened. Throwing pottery does not come easy but if you stick with it and stay positive you will be rewarded with more than just beautiful works of art by the end of the class.

The registration fee includes the instructor pay, use of approximately 25 pounds of clay, use of glazes, use of tools, and two kiln firings. Clay has to be dry in order to be “fired” twice in a kiln before being ready for use. Due to the thickness of clay it can take several days or weeks for a piece to dry completely. It is important that pieces dry before being placed in the kiln. If moisture is still in the walls of the clay or if the clay has significant bubbles they can explode. After drying, the pieces are placed in the kiln for their first firing which is called a “bisque” firing. This is a two-day process due to the kiln needing to time to heat up, reach its full temperature for a certain period of time, and then it cools down. After the cool down process, the pieces are unloaded and then glazed. After the glazing is complete the clay pieces are loaded again in the kiln and fired to over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This process can take as long as three days due to the temperature max of the kiln. After the kiln cools and is unloaded you will be called to come and pick up your work!

Help your community by fulfilling McKinney Center's mission.


The McKinney Center at Booker T. Washington School is a multi-use facility providing arts education through Jonesborough's Mary B. Martin Program.


Phone: 423.753.0562

103 Franklin Ave.
Jonesborough, TN 37659