Have an idea for a workshop you would like me to teach? Let’s talk!
I will travel within the United States and Canada to deliver workshops tailored to meet the goals and objectives of students and potters of all ages and skill levels. My workshops have been well-received in pottery studios, K-12 school settings, colleges & universities, guilds and private studios.
Below you will find a list of workshops that are packed with demonstrations, discussions and hands-on clay work. What we can accomplish will depend a lot on the length of time we have together and the intended audience.
The best way to start our conversation is to complete the Workshop Request Form to save time and get us both on the same page quickly. Once I have received the completed Workshop Request Form we can make a phone appointment to review the details and solidify a plan. Most of the time I will get back to you in a day, though if I am on vacation or wood firing it might take an extra day or so.
Quick questions can also be sent to me here.
The following workshop descriptions are broken into three categories:
• Pottery Studios and Classrooms
• Professional Development for Teachers
• Hands-On for Children
Pottery Studios and Classroom Workshops:
Throwing Boot Camp:
I can work with learners at every level – beginner, intermediate and/or advanced while throwing pots of many types: tumblers, mugs, bowls, plates & platters, vases, lidded vessels, or teapots. How much we can cover depends on many factors, most importantly the amount of time we have together, whether or not you want break-out time for participants to actively try throwing the forms I have demonstrated, and, whether there are enough wheels for everyone if you do want break-out time.
Throwing Large Functional Ware:
Skilled intermediate and advanced learners will become motivated at some point to throw large. I will dispel the myth that you need to have tremendous upper body strength to throw large. Plus, the techniques I will demonstrate will focus on ways to work with the force of the wheel and the whole body to avoid strains or injury.
We start at the beginning with a few centering methods without which trying to throw large is just an exercise in frustration. Depending on the length of time we have, I will demonstrate how to make large vases, platters, and/or bowls
Making Industrial Pourers:
Industrial pourers are a specialty of mine! I spent many years developing the techniques to create pots inspired by a pivotal turning point in human history. The session can include demonstrations of salt and pepper shakers, sugar and creamer sets, oil cans, jars, trays, and teapots. At a minimum we need two days for this topic but it could go for a week easily if you want to include trimming, decorating and my observation and support to learners as they tackle what they have seen demonstrated.
Tool Making for Throwing, Decorating and Glazing:
Potters love tools! There is a deep satisfaction in making your own tools to solve a nagging problem or create an effect you imagine. Of course the possibilities are endless, but in a relatively short amount of time we can attach a chamois to cork to avoid rinsing it down the drain, and make a sponge on a stick that fits great into narrow vessels for soaking up puddled water. There are master brush makers – but I am not one of them. However, I can teach how to make basic brushes with bamboo and animal hair. Or, how about a “humper”? A humper is a long needle tool with sponge on the opposite end. Three other tools that require more time are a trimming bat with an attached foam bat, a trimming bat with a rubber surface, and, finally, making clay chucks for trimming.
Decorating is what takes a pot from good to great. There are so many techniques that can be covered that it is often the focus of a 10 week class! And then we repeat if with some regularity at Clayscapes, Pottery, Inc.. One day might feel like a tease, but in two days we could do a very broad overview that will fill the toolboxes of your students and stimulate their creativity for weeks, months, and even years to come. I orient students to the major decision points at which decoration can be considered: wet clay, shaping, leather hard, bone dry, bisqued, or glazed. Then I demonstrate techniques which can be used at each of those stages. There are more than 30 techniques I can demonstrate in this workshop.
If you know my work, you know wood firing is a deep passion of mine. It is such a great experience that I want to share it with everyone who is interested. You provide the materials (glazes, wadding, wood) and enough bisqued pots to fill your wood kiln. Prior to the firing I will suggest tips for pot forms and trimming, offer wadding recipes, and, review specifications about wood amounts and types. My role as a Visiting Artist will we shaped by your objectives and needs. At a minimum we can load one day and fire on a second day. You may want to fire longer and/or have me there to unload with you and debrief about what information we can glean from the inside of the kiln, and the pots themselves, about what happened in the inferno.
Professional Development for Teachers Workshops:
The ceramics classroom provides an environment for teams of teachers, united perhaps by grade level or subject area, to gather around a table and engage in a hands-on task of making a pot. Most teachers will find themselves out of their comfort zone – a constant state for students. While they tackle the challenge there is time to talk about how they are doing as a team and how their students are doing. This workshop is best when the team has two meetings, one to make the pot and a second session to glaze it.
Classroom Strategies for Teaching Ceramics
Teaching ceramics in primary and secondary art classrooms presents many challenges, not the least of which is the need to slowly dry pots to avoid cracking. Budgeting is of course a key issue which corners many art teachers into doing less than they would like with fewer students. I will help you to strategize how to stretch your resources for the most students. You will briefly assess your existing resources (space, tools, kiln, wheels, supplies of clay and glaze) and determine how best to spend your next allocation of funds.
We will discuss clay and glaze choices, using damp boxes to manage drying, firing once instead of twice and wrapping projects to increase their chances of arriving home intact. If time permits I will also demonstrate projects that work for different grade levels and decorating techniques to add additional creative opportunities.
Being a Ceramic Artist: I will make pots on the wheel, and combine those with hand building parts, while children ask questions about my life as full time professional potter. I will give them an overview of the stages in completing a pot and display pots for them to see what each stage entails.
This workshop has most often been delivered as a question and answer session during which children are not actively working with clay. The conversation usually flows very smoothly without little prompting or preparation. Their natural curiosity takes over because they want to know: Did you go to school for ceramics? How long have you been potting? How many pots can you make in a day? What is the biggest pot you ever made? What is the smallest? Do you make a lot of money as a potter?