A nature view from the Penland School of Crafts campus.

Plonks from clay hitting the wheel, motor hums, and splashing clay slurries surrounded me during my three-day deep dive into throwing clay.

The class ran from sunup to sundown and covered many techniques. Whether I was centering the clay on the wheel, coning clay to make it malleable, or learning to pull clay at a steady pace to ensure the walls were evenly thick, the Penland School of Crafts provided the foundation to continue to explore and refine my newly acquired throwing skills outside of their campus.

While practicing the techniques, it was also amazing to be surrounded by people from all walks of life. Some were previous teachers, graduate students, and even business owners.

With a beginner’s understanding of throwing, I plan to expand the types of ceramic forms I can create. Some could be functional cups, bowls, and plates. This new skill is one I can continue to refine and use throughout the rest of my life.

Widening the opening of my vessel.

When the sun did go down, I was amazed to hear that North Carolina’s blue ghost fireflies were out and about ready to greet us. Apparently, this is a phenomenon that only occurs during the mating season for 2-4 weeks, so I felt especially lucky to have been able to witness it.

As a senior with my last academic semester coming up this fall, I hope to push my future exhibitions further using throwing techniques. I’m starting to put together ideas of what I’ll do for my senior exhibition, and it strikes me that vessels can hold so many different stories. Some stories imbued into vessels could be a culture’s history, their daily or ceremonial practices, and so much more from fads to fashions.

I would like to thank Michael Dill ’71 and his family, for their generous contributions through the Dill Fund. Their contributions enabled me to take part in an amazing educational summer study. I would like to give a special thanks to Professor Strader for mentioning Penland to me and picking me to be a Higher Education Partnership Program recipient.