Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Kitchen Sink: A Mini-Master Workshop at NCECA

One of the presentations I attended at NCECA last month was a Mini-Master Workshop in the K-12 education programming schedule. I got there early so I could be one of the first 40 people who got to work with the clay. Anyone after that quota was filled attended as an observer.

I'm sharing this because I think it was a fabulous exercise in creativity, and not just for kids. I would even do it at the beginning of a handbuilding class and then, again, at the end, since it would be fascinating to see the evolution of one's skills and creativity.

We were given a coffee cup tray with three plastic cups containing some materials, a leather hard slab of clay, a soft block of clay, a small bottle of ugly green glaze, a brush, and a pencil. When they were put in front of us, we were told not to touch anything until after instructions had been given and we were told to begin.

We recognized what was in one of the cups: a cross between soft clay and slip. As for the other two cups, we kept looking and guessing.

Once all the trays were distributed, we were told we had been given clay in all its forms: wet, plastic, dry (the pieces that looked like rocks), and grog (fired clay broken up into very small pieces). We had to use up everything (EVERYTHING, including all the glaze, excluding the containers unless we wished to incorporate them) on our tray and make a head. We had 45 minutes to work. "GO!"

The results were interesting and outstanding. Rather than write more, I'll simply present a gallery of what people created.

The Gallery Show after we cleaned up from the workshop.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

NCECA Seattle

Just a short post with some photos from the 2012 NCECA (National Council on Education in the Ceramic Arts) Conference in Seattle. It was a great opportunity to see and hear what's going on in the larger world of pottery and ceramic arts, visit a great city, do a little birding (see my other blog), and visit with my son, Dan.

Visiting the vendor's exhibition space was like stepping into the Garden of Temptations. So many things I would have liked to have gotten. I guess it was lucky I had no space in my suitcase for the larger items, like a wonderful hump mold which fit over bat pins, and open forms for forming slabs. I'll be saving my pennies for next year, when I can drive to NCECA Houston.

Then there was the gallery exhibition, with several Washington art galleries selling select pieces of pottery and art. I wanted to resist. Truly I did. But one plate screamed "buy me": a handbuild beauty with a Snowy Owls on it.

The Gallery Exhibition

My Plate!
I also donated a mug to the sale raising money for scholarships and purchased three. One was for a gift, the other two came home with me and are now being used in rotation with the rest of my beloved handmade coffee cups.

Mug Sale

As for the actual conference, it was an interesting melange of lectures, demos, discussions, and a "mini master class". I was kept pretty busy, going from place to place, often having to choose between a couple of different presentations which sounded appealing.

I think my favorites were the "mini master class" (I'll write more on this tomorrow), the talk about Contemporary Ceramic Art in Israel, and the tandem demo by Walter Keeler and Tip Toland.

Walter Keeler and his altered pieces

Tip Toland, whose work can only be described as "unbelievable"

My favorite slide from Contemporary Ceramic Arts in Israel. Take a closer look at the negative space between the vessels.
All in all, it was an extremely worthwhile event. Next year I'll have a better idea how to tackle it. For now, I think it will be fun applying some of the techniques I've acquired and seeing how the conferences inspirations interact with my work.