Wheel Throwing Pottery Lessons with Carolyn Krueger at QC Co-Lab

For our recent wedding anniversary my husband, Luke, and I spent time wheel throwing pottery with Carolyn Krueger in the Clay Lab at QC Co-Lab in Davenport. IT WAS AMAZING!! Carolyn Krueger is a fabulous local artist who really cares about bringing art into the lives of Quad Citizens. You can learn more about her from Deborah Davis’ post titled Carolyn Krueger and The ARTery. What I found especially fantastic was that while she was clearly a very talented artist, her greatest gift might actually be patience. She was an excellent teacher and well worth the time and money we spent with her.

Carolyn Krueger offers Pottery Lessons for experienced and inexperienced artists. We purchased two hours and the time flew by! First, Carolyn taught us to prepare our clay which included some moisture and lots of “working” of the clay to connect the particles. Next, she dove right in teaching us how to throw on the wheel. I love that we actually threw our clump (not the technical name for it…) of clay on to the wheel to get it “stuck” in the center.

Then, the magic started…or rather, the hard work. We were educated on how to center our piece on the wheel using various amounts of pressure and “being the boss” of the clay. Another key ingredient was to keep our hands connected. I love the idea that great art comes from being connected.

My husband was much more experienced since he had taken a wheel throwing class in high school, but this was all new to me. Carolyn was incredibly patient as I rushed my developing pottery and overzealously dove into the work. She kindly acknowledged that she made it look easy.

After centering our clay we could decide on a project: I chose a bowl to start. Then, she demonstrated how to open the clay, pull up the sides and even out the edges. There were a number of other artistic words to describe the shaping of our bowls and then making some designs once we finished the shaping. Fun is what I called it. Even messing up and having to start over was pretty fun.

Here’s me with my failed pottery. Can you see I got excited and made the sides too thin?

At the end of the night, here’s the great thing: I made a bowl!

It’s a cute little thing I’m certain my family will pass down for generations. It’s not quite done yet as I still need to return to glaze it. First we make the pottery by wheel throwing. Next the piece dries to what is called leather-hard where it’s firm enough to be trimmed (which seems to mean the scraggly parts taken off, including doing something to really confirm a good base). Then it dries at least a week before it is fired for the first time. This is called bisque fired. After that, we get to return to paint the pottery or glaze it as it’s termed. And finally, the piece is put in the kiln for a final time to finish the look.

Our lesson was conducted in the Clay Studio or Clay Lab that is part of the QC Co-Lab which is an amazing makerspace in Davenport, Iowa, located at 627 W. 2nd Street. I’ll save being ridiculously impressed and fascinated by the QC Co-Lab (how did I not know this kind of place existed!?) for another time, but suffice it to say…it was brilliant and inspiring.

Each workshop area in the Co-Lab has a focus such as woodworking, 3D printing, video game programming, or sewing. Ours, of course, was pottery. While we were getting our lesson there was an artist named Tim Mathes II doing hand-building with clay. It was fun to watch his art unfold as we worked on our own projects.

Tim Mathes II: hand-building artist.

For Pottery Lessons of professional wheel-throwing and hand-building instruction:
Contact Carolyn Krueger at carolynjkrueger@gmail.com or 309-781-7668
Also follow her on Facebook at Pottery with Miss Carolyn
$30/hour for singles and couples. Other rates available on request.
$5 fee/piece you decide to keep.

As someone who has never thrown anything before (well, you know, on a pottery wheel), I had a great time! My husband had an equally fun time re-learning his wheel throwing skills. We both highly recommend this wheel throwing adventure available right here in the Quad Cities!

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About the author

Meghan Cooley Meghan Cooley moved to the Quad Cities from St. Charles, IL, as an Augustana College student over 20 years ago. She left briefly after graduation and then returned to work in admissions and then marketing at Augustana College for 18 years. She now works as a consultant for admissions marketing and social media. She also does copy editing and writes for a the Quad City Mom's Blog. Now a true Quad Cities transplant, Meghan lives in Rock Island with her husband, Luke (R.O.W.V.A.and Augustana grad and Modern Woodmen employee) and four boys. She loves living in the Quad Cities and finds it the perfect place to raise a family, plan a date night, and go on adventures.

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