Monday, June 29, 2015

Workshop at Archie Bray, Next Month

Next month I'm heading to Montana to take a workshop with Peter Beasecker at The Archie Bray Foundation. I signed up for the workshop a few months ago and am looking forward to being a student for a bit. I haven't taken a wheel-throwing class since my first year in college. In graduate school I learned from other potters and since then I mostly learn from videos online. Of course I had years of classes in hand-building, kiln firing, kiln building, and glaze and clay chemistry, but very limited instruction on the wheel itself.

throwing sculpture parts

My own work is mostly sculpture, though I use the wheel as a tool for throwing pieces with which I later build. Most of my clay teaching for the past 12 years has been on the wheel. I spend lots of time instructing beginning students on the basics of bowls and cylinders, handles and lids, as well as clay, glaze and firing basics. But those students of mine who spend quarter after quarter throwing on the wheel, sometimes end up practicing techniques I do not get a chance to practice (throwing big, making matched sets, copying complex forms). I get lots of practice throwing simple shapes for my students and sculpting complex ones in my home studio, but I don't spend a great deal of time refining my own thrown forms directly on the wheel, and I only occasionally thrown functional work at home.

thrown sculpture parts

My hope is that this workshop will be inspiring and will give me some good ideas for my pottery classes. I'm not sure what those ideas will be--maybe new throwing techniques or suggestions for improving what I (and my students) already do, or perhaps ideas about form, inspiration and developing a coherent group of functional works. At the very least, the workshop will give me one solid week to be a student and to throw pots for myself (not as a demonstration for students).

thrown work in low fire work

I threw for a few hours last week because the workshop materials list asked us to bring some bisque ware. It didn't occur to me until after I threw most of a box of clay to ask what temperature the bisque ware should be. My main throwing clay is low temperature, but at the Bray we will be firing to cone 6. So, I went to Seattle on Thursday for my shift at CORE Gallery and picked up some higher temperature clay on my way in.

high fire clay ready for throwing, and thrown

I've thrown 25 lbs this morning and plan to throw some more later today and pull handles and trim today or tomorrow. I'd like to get the work dry this week to fire next week, in time for the workshop. I threw mostly bowls and mugs, though I may make some pitchers or even a teapot if I have time.

mugs in low fire clay

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