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Lesson Plans

Centering Blind

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Glen Williams (gw1944)
Thu, 13 Mar 1997 16:03:22 -0600

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Fellow Art People:
Last week I got some thoughtful responses regarding the dilemma (for me
at least) of appropriating other cultural concepts and using them in the
art room in production. I am not sure what the etiquette is but I would
like to offer something in return. It is a technique I have used for
teaching the potters wheel for a long time, and it has been very helpful.
Initially centering on the wheel is always the problem. I have found that
sight often gets in the way for the student. I arrange the wheels so that
I have access to the students- directly opposite them.I then have the
students blindfolded. We throw on bats for ease of transfer. I adhere the
ball of clay to the bat for them, verbalize their hand positioning on the
clay and then we start. After 5 or 6 minutes I place my hands on top of
theirs from the opposite side and using their hands I quickly center the
ball. This leads eventually to their hands grasping the concept of
centering long before their minds do. I then use their hands again (mine
over the top) to uncenter the clay. I go up and down the line of students
repeating this process 8 or 10 times. The hands get it. I say the usual
things about the placement of the arms, how the hands are placed over the
clay, the direction of the pressure- all standard stuff- but they absorb it
very differently because they are blindfolded. When they can center
perfectly in a minute- the blindfolds come off. Sometimes it can happen in
a period, sometimes 3 or 4 days. But it happens. The rest of the process is
standard instruction. The one question you do not hear is " Is this
centered yet?" Glen Williams

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