Alexa, Play Unchained Melody

Work Release 
It was incredibly refreshing to be back at Work Release, but specifically his studio upstairs. The familiar smell of clay, paint, and canvas brought a soft smile to Mathis' face as he stepped into the room. His wheel sat where he had left it at the front of the room, and the four others that were used during classes had not been uncovered from when he had draped canvas over them before leaving for the art expo. On a table beside the two kilns sat a half painted vase, a project he had intended to finish the morning after his trip into Ravenswood. Mathis sighed as he moved toward it, intending to find a place to store it until her could return to the task.

@"Frank Beringer"

After Mathis' text invite to come over to his studio at Work Release, Frank had finished up the few chores he'd been in the middle of before heading out. He'd arrive at the place about thirty minutes after his friend had suggested, carrying with him tiny variety sandwiches because it just felt odd to go empty handed.

Once he'd opened the door to the gallery, Frank paused, unsure of where to go to find the cheetah. Finding a lack of directions and texts tell him where exactly to go, he made his way to the front whom directed him up the stairs. Once there, he meandered a bit till he called out in a somewhat raised voice into a particular room that had various looks about it that said either a fancy mole lived there or a ceramist. Knocking on the door, he called in. "Mathis, you happen to be there?"


In the time it had taken Frank to arrive, Mathis had found himself at the wheel. Just something small to pass the time, a coffee cup that he would add to his collection of too many cups. Or perhaps gift to Frank. The quality was yet to be determined, but it was looking decent. When Frank poked his head in, he would hear the whirring of the wheel and the splash of water as Mathis wet his fingers. From the corner, an Alexa played some atmospheric LoFi.

His eyes flickered up from the clay, a smile spreading across his face. “I realized too late that I forgot to text you what room is mine.” He said as he raised his clay covered hands. “Come in!” He beckoned with a wave before placing his hands back onto the spinning cylinder.

Bc I forgot to dress this man, Outift

So, he did have the right room, fantastic. With the invitation to come in, Frank walked across the doorway and looked around, seeing Mathis at the wheel already getting down and dirty it would seem. "No worries, found you easy enough." Putting down the tray of food on a clean enough counter by the door, he made his way over.

Frank's gaze went to the clay being spun around before flicking towards a nearby chair, bringing it over to sit down near his friend. "Seems like you're getting back into the swing of things, no problem. What're you making?" He looked from the wheel to Mathis.

Frank let himself in with forgiveness that Mathis had expected. He was glad the man took it upon himself to pull up a chair and find himself comfortable, as his own hands were a little busy. He focused a moment on pushing his thumbs downward into the center of the cylinder, and drawing it upward but not outward. He looked up as he moved to wet his hands again, catching Frank's gaze over his outstretched arm. "It will be a mug. Something simple, I just wanted to get back into a rhythm."

His head tilted upward some as he glanced toward the tupperware Frank had carried in. "More food? I am beginning to think you are trying to fatten me up. Do jaguars eat cheetahs?" He teased with a wink as his hands returned to the mug.

At the mention of a mug, Frank tried to visualize how that'd go, having no prior experience to how any of this worked. He assumed the middle would be the foundation of where liquid was held, but much us was a bit hard to see how it'd shape up at this point. "I see."

Mathis attention went to the tupperware and he cracked a grin at the tease. "Just one of those things you learn growing up. Feels weird not to bring something, I guess," Frank explained with a casual shrug.

His fingers and palms worked to shape and smooth the curve of the mug, which was a simple task given the small project. Mathis sat away and pressed the foot pedal to slow the spinning of the wheel, and the whirring quieted as Frank explained himself. A small smirk cocked across his lips as he rinsed his hands and grabbed for the pointed metal wedge on a small table set beside him. "Well," He said as he positioned the point of it at the base of the mug, and pressed upward to allow it to scrape away at some of the clay there. A tapered bottom, so it wasn't some chunky cylinder. "I will never say no to food," He slid his finger along the metal to scrape away the chunk of clay that had peeled away, "Not as long as a particular cat has a say in it." With that, he stopped the spinning all together, and peeled up the disc it sat on. "Let me put this in the kiln, and we can get started on your potato."

Frank watched the delicate process with interest, his own cat taking it in with wide eyes. It looked complicated, but Mathis seemed to have the technique down pat.

As he got up and mentioned how Frank would be trying his hands at it he honestly was a bit worried. It was definitely going to look like a potato. He had no idea how to do any of that and was very, very sure that there was going to be a lot of embarrassing moments ahead. Still, he shot an unsure grin at his friend when they got up. "Well... if you think we should do that first." He had come over to also help him set up the place again and get it ready. But, if they were going to jump that for now, he wasn't really in a position to say no, this was Mathis' studio after all. "I look forward to learning from the great Mathis."

Mathis moved swiftly toward the kiln, and as Frank spoke he glanced over his shoulder. "It will be easier to get everything in order after we clean the mess we'll make." He said with a knowing smile. It was never a clean affair, learning how to throw. With the mug settled, he moved then to the storage cabinet in which he kept the clay. From it, he produced a container, then carried it toward a nearby table with a wave of his hand. "And I look forward to teaching. Come, first we have to wedge the clay."

The further explanation did make sense, considering how the clay slip was coated about everything. He watched as Mathis grabbed a container, getting up to make his way over to the table at the beckon. Coming up, Frank began to roll up his sleeves a bit further up than they were to attempt to keep them from becoming completely coated by the end of this.

With a curious look from the container to Mathis, he spoke up. "Alright, so, wedging." He was unfamiliar with the term used with clay, but enthused to learn what it was about. "How, do you go about doing that?"

An eager student! He was quite fond of those. “You begin with your clay.” He said as he went about peeling the lid open and removing the block of clay that sat wrapped. A wire and a swift motion later, he had a sizable chunk of clay. He made certain to wrap the block back up and secure the lid securely before setting it aside and positioning himself at the table.

“I will start. So! You will make the clay into a square.” He explained as he dropped the ball from a foot or so above onto the table, where the impact sight flattened. He picked it up once more, rotated it, then repeated. A few more times, and the clay molded itself into a cube-like shape.

“Once it is square, you set it down.” He did so as he spoke. “And with the heels of your hands you will push down, then forward against the edge facing you.” He ran a finger along the edge to demonstrate, and glanced to Frank for any sign he had gotten lost. With that, he went ahead and pressed the heels of his hands into the clay, and rolled forward in a short movement. The edge collapsed inward, and elongated the cube into somewhat of a p shape.

“Then bring the next edge,” he indicated it with a tap, “Up toward you, and repeat. I do this ten more times, then put it into a cube again and repeat. This gets air bubbles out, so our potato won’t explode in the kiln.” He explained as his hands moved to fold the clay in the same pattern.

Soon, he was finished with that rotation, and he straightened to pull his hands away and nod down toward the block. “You try.” He grinned.

At the mention of clay it would turn out that the container did in fact hold that. He listened and watched attentively as it was cut to Mathis' satisfaction and then dramatically plopped down, the sound echoing a bit in the room. And then, it was done again a few more times. At the part of flattening it out with the heels of his hands, Frank furrowed his brows, watching closely at the technique. It didn't seem that hard so far, kind of like playing with play-doh as a kid he assumed. Or maybe flattening out dough was a better example. When Mathis looked up to see if he was following, he nodded, urging him to continue.

Ten or so more times and well, that seemed easy enough to start with. With the mention of it exploding, Frank looked up. "How do you make sure that the bubbles are completely out then? Best guess, I suppose?"

Oh, now it was his turn and Frank set his mouth, rubbing at an arm before making to open the lid and grab the clay block Mathis had cut from. "Alright...," he said lightly with a smile.

Block in hand, he unwrapped it from the plastic before setting it down on the table in front of him. Picking up the wire, Frank tried to find a suitable hand position before making it taut and slicing off roughly how much the cheetah had before. The moist clay gave easy enough and he wrapped up the block with a series of plastic noises before setting it back into it's container and away from the drying effects of air. With everything squared away, he gave a look to Mathis, unsure as he balled it up in a weird square mishmash before dropping it. A sharp smacking noise was enough for his cat to startle a bit. Ok, less distance. Grabbing it again, Frank dropped it a few more times to get roughly the shape they were supposed to be aiming for. "Ok, so then... I just... push?" When asking, he did a similar motion, the clay easily flattening out before he grabbed the edge and turned it inside itself before doing it again.

He looked up for confirmation. "So then, ten more times, right?"

At Frank’s question, he huffed a small chuckle. “Mostly you just pray you wedged enough that you got all of the bubbles out. A lot of checking, which we will do for yours.” He supposed he ought to check his own, but he had wedged enough times in his life that he felt fairly confident in his own abilities.

“Yes, a short movement. You don’t want to press too hard and end up squishing it into two.” He said at the request for confirmation. Frank did wonderfully, and Mathis watched with his arms crossed and standing at a comfortable distance beside him.

“Ten, usually, but you may need more after we check.” He said.

Frank repeated then, and once the process was finished, Mathis stepped closer. His hands moved to gently brush against Frank’s as he spoke. “To check, I like to flatten it. You will see the bubbles.” He took a moment to flatten the clay, pressing with enough force to reveal the few bubbles that populated it, but not enough to push holes into it.

“These are what will expand and explode in the kiln. So, we know we have to keep wedging.” He said in a gentle tone, distantly worried that Frank might feel discouraged. “It’s a workout, but worth not destroying your piece.”

As Mathis stepped in and brushed by, he moved his own hands out of the way to allow full access to the clay. Frank watched as it was flattened more and bubbles were shown. Oh god, this was going to take a long time, he could tell. Bubbles in the clay were merciless, the sleeping giants of kiln explosions. He made to push on one, testing the firmness with a finger, before feeling the rest of the surface and the texture there.

"I see," he sighed, but with a smile. "I guess this is a good excuse not to go to the gym."

With that, he grabbed the clay off the table, lobbed it back together and began wedging it again, arms getting tired after a while. Soon enough, the clay was wedged enough to be used. "Should be good now?" He looked up hopefully to Mathis.

"Sì, I haven't lifted a weight in years." Mathis joked, although it was not exactly a lie.

Eventually, the bubbles were worked away, and the clay was wedged enough to be useful. "Yes! Now, on to centering. This is tricky, so I will do it for you." It would take too much time to sit with Frank and have him do it himself. There was time later for an actual class, but for now, Mathis figured it would be best to get to the actual throwing. So, with that, Mathis took both his and Frank's clay and lead them back to the wheels. He had moved one to be near to his own, and that was where Frank would sit.

He would take the next few minutes to go over the basics of how to work the wheel and the pedals, then center Frank's clay for him. Of course, he went over the steps of doing so, but it would not be a full dissection of the method. When Frank's clay was centered on the wheel, Mathis moved to do his own. Finally, he settled down and gestured for Frank to sit. "Now, we throw!" He grinned. "We will be making bowls. So, I have centered it." He gestured to the clay that sat before him on his own wheel, which was slowly rotating with a low hum.

"First, we will need to make the opening. Wet your hands, then place them like so," He placed his left hand to the side of the gum-drop shaped clay, his thumb resting at the top of the rounded edge, but not pressing in. With his right, he place this right hand so that the top of it faced upward, and folded his thumb over top of the other. "Almost as if you are making a butterfly with your hands, but the left one is cupped around the side." He explained. "Your right hand finger tips will touch the center," He said, demonstrating by pressing the finger tips into the center of the gumdrop, "And you will press straight downward with them, to create a hole. Not hard, but enough pressure so that your fingers don't wiggle." He said as he pressed downward. The clay gave in the center, and he paused a moment as it spun in his hands and a hole opened. It created something like a donut shape, though the hole only extended half way.

"Try now," He said as he pulled his hands away from his own clay, slowed the rotation, and moved to stand beside Frank. If he struggled with the hand positioning, Mathis was ready to redirect.

Knowing that they were done wedging was a bit of a relief. There was only so much pushing back and forth on clay till it got tiring. As Mathis went to starting center, Frank followed and attentively listened on how to work the wheel. He then watched as the clay was easily centered onto it, hand on his chin, attentive to how it was done. Not today, but maybe sometime in the future he'd like to give that a go. Till then, he was thankful for it being done for him.

At the gesture to sit when Mathis went to his own wheel, he sheepishly did so, a tad nervous as to how this was going to go. Odds were, he might accidentally hit the power too fast and end up with clay spattered everywhere. He listened and tried to visualize how this would become a bowl. Mathis then showed the process and oh boy, that made it look easy. "They need to rename this spinning, not throwing."

Wetting his hands, he made to put them on the clay, leaving them hovering before taking them back and doing so again at a different angle. "Ok, let's see here." Oh right, he had to start the wheel. So, pushing on the pedal slowly, it began to whir to life and then he waited a few beats before hesitantly put his left hand how Mathis had instructed. The clay slipped past his fingers as he placed his right hand. Andddd, nothing fell off the wheel just yet. Great!

Deliberating the next step for a second, he then pushed with his right hand and the clay slowly began to fan out before beginning to wobble back and forth. "Whoa, whoa, whoa," he breathed softly. Frank slowed the wheel to mostly a stop, concerned, taking his hands off it and staring quizzically. "Okayyy, how do I get it to not do that, aha?"

Frank was an excellent student, and Mathis was thankful for how attentively he listened. Something that, of course, could be accredited to his being a doctor. Still, he was excited for Frank's willingness. Mathis watched with a soft smile and crossed arms as Frank began. For a moment, he was doing very well. Then, as was expected, something went awry. Mathis spied the problem just as soon as it was happening, and with a soft chuckle as Frank asked for guidance, Mathis crouched beside him. "Your left thumb was pressing too hard. You want to use this,' He held his hand out and traced a "c" shape along the outer curve of his palm, "Part of your hand. Here," He said, and first moved to wet his hands, then positioned himself to grasp lightly at Frank's and guide them forward. It was something he had done hundreds of times in his classes, and often thought little of it. Here, though, Mathis felt something akin to... embarrassment? No, not quite. A small heat against the back of his neck. Perhaps it was to do with the fact that this was someone he considered a friend, and it was crossing some line of closeness for which the boundary had yet to be set.

Mathis focused his gaze specifically onto the clay and the positioning of the hands in his grasp. "So, your left," He pressed against the top of Frank's left hand with the side of the hand he had indicated. "That much pressure, your thumb only rests at the top for guidance." For a brief moment, he glanced upward at Frank, though it was a slightly awkward angle as he was reaching over the man's arms. Speaking of which, "Your left elbow," He said, sitting away some as he reached to press his own left hand against Frank's forearm, and pushed gently backward toward his torso. "Should rest on your hip." He said. His hand rested there a moment as he glanced to Frank at this improved angle for confirmation. "It will feel awkward, but it helps with stability without feeling like you must press too hard."

As Mathis explained, his gaze went to the thumb in question, watching as the curve of his palm was pointed out. Flexing his hand, Frank set it back into the shape in question as Mathis wet his hands and offered physical instruction. With the pressure, Frank followed the movement, paying careful attention to what was about to be directed. He was used to having techniques shown to him like this through training and doing so with others, completely oblivious of Mathis' own hang ups here.

His left hand was given more pressure, and he followed it through, aware now of where his thumb should be going, nodding before feeling eyes on him. Meeting them, he continued with a reassuring smile. "Got it." Frank's gaze quickly followed where Mathis' hand was pushing an elbow to sit on a hip. While he'd had no problem with hand positions, this was a bit... different. Once it was there, the position felt really weird and thinking to how he'd carry this out for when pressing on the clay, his brows knitted up. Center of gravity and all, but it felt restricted. "I feel like this is a prank," he huffed amusingly. Ceramists were a bunch of gnomes in disguise, it was the only way. "Am I good to get this thing moving again?"

Frank was compliant with the adjustments, and Mathis cracked a smile at his mild discomfort. "You're right, I have someone in the closet taking pictures of you looking ridiculous." He hummed, a small jab at Frank's own Weekend at Bernie's prank. At the question, Mathis hummed in affirmation, "Let me smooth it for you, then you can try the opening again." He said as he reached to wet his hands and grab a sponge from beside the water pot.

When the wheel was spinning once more, Mathis went about the brief process of smoothing the clay back down into a gumdrop shape. When it was ready, he pulled away to place the sponge to the side, and pushed back from the wheel, still in a crouch. "Okay," He said gently, gesturing for Frank to begin.

A chuckle escaped him at the joke, wiggling a bit in the seat to get better posture as Mathis stepped in. He took that as a no go and waited patiently as the clay was molded back into shape. As he pulled away and said it was now ok to keep going and try again, Frank almost started, but stopped, realizing he had yet to wet his hands. That's how clay ended up flinged.

Dampening his hands and potential second crisis averted, Frank looked at the clay, setting his jaw while slowy getting the wheel to start spinning again. Remembering how he'd been directed hand direction wise, he followed that, finding it a lot easier with elbows placed just so on the hip. The clay began to spread out, where his thumb pressed down so did it. A slight wobbling was quickly corrected by adjusting his hand to the 'c' shape, but without the same type of pressure on the other side the clay began to slide off center a tad. Realizing something was up as the plate made a different noise, he slowed with a sigh. "Always something," he said, taking his hands off it and trying to figure out exactly what was going on here.

Frank began again, and Mathis watched with a careful eye. All went well, the hand positioning was not perfect but Frank did correct himself. The clay suddenly slid, and Mathis straightened his back some as Frank pulled away. "Your right hand was pushing too hard." He said, inspecting the clay. "Press down only with your finger tips." He waved his own in example. "Come now, I'm sure those hands of yours are used to being gentle." A subtle, knowing wink. He knew from experience how ginger Frank had been with his wounds. This was similar in the care you had to take. Clay was fragile, but forgiving.

As Mathis explained, he stared at the clay lump as if it was some weird IKEA contraption that his hands had to figure out how to put together. Too much pressure and it'd do that. Too little and nothing. Make the wrong movement and kiss the clay goodbye. It was a balance he'd have to achieve here for sure.

The wave of fingers had Frank turning to look at Mathis, catching the wink accompanying the explanation. "Ha, you're not wrong. I'll try to apply that." Maybe that's what'd been missing, besides experience, a different mindset. So, wetting his hands again, he carefully scooched the clay an inch or so back to the middle before trying again with the wheel on. Keeping steady pressure on both sides now and the instructions given, he eventually had a widening bowl. A bit wobbly in some areas, but still definitely getting there. While he was focusing, he definitely had a small grin forming at not completely messing up this time.

Frank was getting it. Mathis smiled fondly as the man took his instruction into consideration, and watched with a keen eye for any more error to correct as the man went back. This time was much smoother. The clay stayed in place, and the shape was... improved. Certainly not the smoothes of openings, but he had seen much worse. Mathis flashed a grin and reached a hand to nudge Frank gently on the lower back. "You're doing well." He encouraged.

"Slow the wheel for a moment, I will show you how to lift it now. He said as he moved his hands back around to hover nearby in case he needed to physically direct. "This is more simple. Place your left finger tips into the hole, and your thumb on the outside." He moved his own left hand to demonstrate in the air nearby, but did not grasp it as his hand had dried by now. "Your right hand will rest over," He folded his right hand over his left hand's fingers. "Don't press with your right, but squeeze gently with both your fingers and thumb. Draw it up and outward, slowly." He motioned for Frank to continue, but paused, "Wet your hands again." Wet hands were the key to it all.

Managing to get the clay to open without everything going haywire again was a nice change of pace. The encouragement was a good boost as well, the contact not unnoticed to which his cat reacted docile at best with it, flicking an ear and lazily regarding the other happily, reaching out with a long stretch. If only the metaphysical planes could be shared so it could easily pap a face.

Frank slowed the wheel as instructed once said and prepared to do what was asked of his hands next. At each step, he ghosted the movement without pressing, looking to Mathis’ own to see how he showed it. This was far more complex of a series of steps, but with a little luck it should be ok.

”Oh, right.” He wetted his hands again, the clay on his fingers running a bit into the bowl of water. ”Ok, let’s see if I can get this, ha.” Placing hands back just so, he began to squeeze and draw up the clay. However, the clay thinned on one side andddd the motion began unraveling the half thrown bowl on a bit too fast of a wheel. Perhaps if he was more easily flustered it would’ve been upsetting, but instead as a chunk hit him in the chest and the wheel slowed, Frank began to laugh at himself. ”I’m sorry,” he breathed, picking up a chunk off his hand before shooting an amused look to Mathis. He was trying here and the cheetah seemed light hearted enough not to be put off by this disastrous pull of the bowl. "I'm willing to try again. Hopefully this time with less flying clay."

Frank maneuvered his hands as instructed, and Mathis inspected his movement from his crouch. Unfortunately, the level at which he was lowered was in direct path for a clump of clay to come flinging toward him when the bowl broke apart. With hardly any notice to try and jerk away, it smacked him in the cheek. A smile formed and he chuckled in an echo of Frank's. "Don't be sorry. This happens" Mathis said as he moved his hand to wipe away the clay.

"We can use mine." He said and gave Frank's wrist a little squeeze as he stood. "Best to move wheels so we don't have to re-center." He said as he motioned for Frank to rise and switch to the wheel he'd been using to instruct Frank through the first process.

Some of the clay had managed to apparently get on Mathis’ cheek upon closer inspection which left a mark when wiped. That just added to his amusement of this scenario.

A squeeze to his wrist made the finality of the offer apparent, but still. ”Only if you’re ok with that. I don’t want to mess up your expertly centered bowl.” Frank got up to switch wheels, but was a bit hesitant to sit right away. Odds were, this was going to end up not how Mathis had originally intended this particular lump of clay. But, he was teaching sooo… Frank sat and waited for direction.

"Nah!" Mathis said with a wave of a hand. "If I was upset every time something got ruined here, I would never be happy." He joked with a small huff of a chuckle. When Frank sat down, he stepped forward a bit. "Pottery breeds patience." Without it, there would be no way to do it. "Let me man the wheel, I think you were going too quickly last time." He offered, and maneuvered to prepare to place his foot on the pedal.

If that was the case, Mathis was a very very very patient man. Something he could appreciate and aspire towards. That wasn't to say Frank wasn't patient, but you could always hope to be a better version of yourself.

He cocked an eyebrow at the mention of Mathis manning the pedal, but nodded in agreement. "Sure, you can be my speed cop here." Taking a breath, Frank remembered to put his elbows just so after wetting his hands. "Ready when you are."

Mathis waited for Frank to fall into position before pressing into the pedal. The speed was slower this time, but fast enough for Frank not to feel like he was moving too slowly. He watched with slightly raised brows, eager to see how well Frank did in pulling. It began smoothly, but Mathis caught sight of Frank's elbow shifting too far forward. In a swift motion, he moved to gently press into the crook of his elbow and guide it back toward where it should rest. His other hand found a place on his shoulder. "Keep this here like it's glued to you." He said softly, hoping his movements hadn't startled him into losing focus on the clay.

Everything was going a lot better round 2 and with Mathis manning the wheel's speed. Perhaps, it hadn't been going as well as he thought because apparently his elbow had been in the wrong location. A guided hand had it back in its place, another on Frank's shoulder. That was a lot of contact and in the process of moving his arm and trying to concentrate, it didn't end up well. There was a quick wobble, but pulling away his own hands from the clay, Frank nodded in understanding, wanting to make sure that the thing didn't just shoot off somewhere. It didn't.

"Got it. I'll be a statue." He looked up at that to confirm he understood, before trying again to pull and continue, trying to soften the wobble with a few turns.

"Sorry," He said absently at the wobbling the correction had cause. His hands lingered as he focused a moment on the precarious clay, but moved away when things revealed themselves to be turning out fine. Mathis moved back and crossed his arms casually across himself as he watched Frank employ all of the tips he'd learned thus far.

"No worries," he huffed in amusement. "Just surprised me." There was no reason for sorrys right now, he'd been trying to help and that was that. Just, it had thrown him off. So, with some help with Mathis, it was corrected and Frank could carry on without disaster by his own making.

With a bit of time, Frank was able to shape one as instructed. Pulling away his hands, a very newbie looking bowl sat, but it was a good start. "I think, this is kind of... a bowl something, ha."

"Apologies," He said once again, because that was a bad habit of his. "I will be more gentle next time." A brief, teasing wink. Frank did well enough with the corrected positioning, and before long he had pulled the bowl into a... well. It was actually not terrible, considering this was his first time! "My first bowl ended up looking like a volcano." Mathis said, "This is wonderful, Frank." A gesture toward the bowl. "You can attempt to smooth it some with the sponge if you would like." It would still likely be somewhat wobbly, but at least it would not be quite as rugged.

The image of a younger Mathis staring at a volcano looking bowl made by his own hands was highly amusing and had Frank chuckling a bit.

A compliment to his work as a first time had him feeling a bit pleased. It wasn't that good, but dang he'd tried and it hadn't come out looking like goo so it was a point to be a bit proud of. "If you say so. It probably holds no flame to your volcano though, but thank you."

Taking the advice, Frank grabbed the sponge and wetted it in the bowl of water, wringing it out. "Sure, if you'll man the pedal again I can try my best to polish it off," he agreed. And he would delicately run the sponge over the clay as it spun if Mathis did so.

"I'm a little disappointed about not seeing a potato. I wonder if I could actually throw one." He teased, but there was an interesting challenge there. Throwing sculptures that were completely closed was almost impossible. He had seen apples and pears done before, but never a potato. For now, he had to focus on the wheel and helping Frank clean up his masterpiece. He started the wheel up, slower this time so Frank did not lose control over the sponge. Some of the rougher edges did smooth out, but the edge still was a little wavy. Still! It had not fallen. So that was a success. When all was said and done, Frank had done better than many for their first time.

"I will cut it from the base and put it in the kiln." He said as the wheel slowed, and he moved to grab the wire and stoop to begin sliding the metal beneath the base of the bowl. "I promise text updates of how it is doing. I'll even glaze it, and you can keep it after." He continued as he moved to carefully pick the bowl up from the pedestal and move to place it in the kiln.

"Ha, if you manage to do that, please send pictures." A potato sculpture would be truly unique.

Slow and steady they went and the bowl eventually was smoothed of the rough edges. Frank removed the sponge from contacting the clay and moved off the chair and out of the way as Mathis made to cut it off the base with the wire. Wiping off what he could on a towel after using the sponge a bit on his own hands, he answered. "I appreciate that. Feel free to glaze it with any colors you deem fit. It'll be a good conversation starter of a bowl." He grinned at Mathis at that.

"Or perhaps I will do it in secret and surprise you with it. When is your birthday?"

It would take a few minutes to tend to the bowl and kiln, but before long he was returning to Frank was a proud smile. "I think you have been one of my favorite students." He said, perhaps a bit biased as this was his friend. Still, there was something to be said about how studious Frank had been. It took a great deal of patience to learn how to throw, and Frank had exhibited it.

That offer wasn't something he'd expected. "Well you can definitely do that too, I'll look forward to it. It's December 22nd."

As Mathis got everything squared away, Frank went about cleaning up what he could before washing the tools used and trying to get the rest of the clay off his own hands. He was drying everything when his friend came back around and Frank met the smile with his own sheepish one at the compliment. "Haha, well you're a fantastic teacher. I can see why you like it so much. Your enthusiasm for it shines through."

December 22nd. He would have to try and remember that. As for the compliment, Mathis beamed. “Thank you, my friend.” He said, and reached out a hand to grab Frank’s shoulder for a gentle shake.

“For not just that. Being someone to talk to, too.” He said with a nod. “I have needed it.”

The clasp to his shoulder and the thanks was a hint to the more heartfelt addition. It all added to the weight of what had been said and Frank was glad he could be there for him in a way that meant so much and it warmed his chest a bit. He reached out to grab the arm Mathis had extended to shake his own shoulder.

"Of course. You can always talk to me, even if it's just about what you had for breakfast. I'll listen." He squeezed and let go, skin around his eyes crinkling up in a smile.

"Now, how can I help you get this studio set up?"

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