This winter brings me another opportunity to share my humble knowledge with the clay-curious, courtesy of the Potters Guild of Baltimore. I’ve been a member and teaching at this studio for several years, and have recognized how the experience has helped me grow as an artist and instructor. There have certainly been ups and downs, in both respects, but each experience has informed the other. I have to give credit to the students who’ve come through, for unknowingly helping me to note my strengths and diagnose my weaknesses.
I’ve made the syllabus for the Winter Session available for download as a pdf. It’s bit more intensive and hands-on than the previous classes, but I hope to bring the same laid-back vibe that just feels right for a ceramics class.
Take a sneak peek at the course
I’m accepting students throughout the 12 weeks, and classes can be prorated if you enroll after the session officially begins. We’ll end the course with a friendly potluck where you can show off your culinary skills, and maybe serve your dish in your own hand-crafted ceramic work.
On the fence? I’m happy to entertain visitors interested in taking a class who want to drop by for a minute and check things out. I’m always available to talk more about the class and answer any questions, my contact info is on the syllabus.
Several years ago, while still in school, I found a small set of tables in the rear lobby of a hotel in downtown Baltimore. It was during an annual national traveling ceramics conference (NCECA), and I was making my rounds ’round the city soaking in the atmosphere. The unassuming collection of tables offered ceramic wares produced by a community in Nicaragua to raise money for a US-based non-profit. The organization was Potters For Peace, a group providing sustainably responsible business tools and support through the ceramic arts. I purchased a piece as a gift for Mary Laurel, which she still has and is now sitting in our living room 5 years later.
The biggest success of Potters For Peace might be the development of a low-cost, locally produced Ceramic Water Purifier. It’s a low-tech, non-proprietary design (anyone can have access to the plans) being taught to rural communities around the globe. Ceramic drip filters were used in relief efforts after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunamis. This is not only providing clean and potable water, (removing some “99.88% of most water-borne disease agents”) but the manufacture of the filters provides these rural populations with a sustainable business.
Lab and field tests have been carried out by MIT, Tulane U, and the Universities of Colorado and North Carolina. Organizations like the Red Cross, UNICEF, and Doctors Without Boarders have distributed these filters worldwide.
This organization has been on my mind off-and-on since stumbling upon them years ago. Life hasn’t afforded me the time to participate in one of their “Brigades”, so I’m trying another route. I’ve gotten in touch with PfP and will be donating a modest percentage of all my Etsy sales to them, hoping that even a little will go a long way.
If you missed the link before, the website is www.pottersforpeace.org. Also check out Goods for the Garden, who donate a far more impressive amount than I to the cause.
A photo of Mary Laurel’s pot in our living room.
Unloaded a glaze kiln yesterday of my most recent work.
Filed under Gallery, Studio
With two feet of snow on the ground, I had few other choices than to build a fire and set up a studio in the basement. I didn’t think to take pictures of what it looked like before, but the difference is amazing. I managed to carve out a cozy little work area, consolidate our mountain of camping equipment, and pack everything else out of the way.
The new wheel is set up and ready to be broken in. The kiln is just for show, as we don’t have a 220v outlet, but for the price I couldn’t turn it down. One day we’ll find her a home. For the time being I’ll have to settle for having my creative outlet accessible 24/7 in my own basement. I wish everyday was a snow day.
Unloaded a bisque kiln this weekend, and at the risk of getting ahead of myself (because there’s every chance any or all of these could be ruined between now and completion), I thought I’d post some photos. I included the last two just to keep myself honest…
Today I mourn the loss of a dearest friend and steady companion – my favorite cup. Cup suffered from irrevocable trauma when dropped the other night. Turns out ceramics don’t bounce back into your hand unharmed when that happens. They stay on the ground, often times in more pieces than had existed just seconds before.
This particular cup found a special place for me the moment it emerged from the kiln. It was a pleasant surprise as, up until that point, it had gone pretty much unnoticed. I had already picked out what I thought were going to be the best pieces, and Cup was not among them. It was still warm as I turned it over in my hands and felt how well it fit in my palms, how the weight and glaze were just right. I had something special here. A fellow ceramicist offered a trade on the spot, and I respectfully declined.
We had a pretty good run, Cup and I. Although we won’t be sharing the future I had envisioned, I am grateful for the time we were able to spend together.
I’m reminded of what I’ve preached for years to my students: Don’t let your work become too precious, find the value in the skills that let you create a thing rather than the thing itself.
A few more that have left the nest and found homes of their own.