Sunday, September 27, 2009

teach to learn...

I really love teaching, and I think it's because I love being around people who are excited about learning new things. And I think it's because I love learning new things, and when I teach a beginner or beginning potter or curious clay enthusiast, I inevitably end up learning right along with my student.

Fall has always been my favorite season of the year, and since I've been in Asheville, another reason to look forward to fall is the "Senior Project". Asheville schools require seniors to spend a minimum of 10 hours doing something they've never done - pairing themselves with an expert and/or mentor in a field they've never explored. I've been fortunate to work with seniors on this project every year I've been here, and this year I'm happy that I'll be working with not one but two seniors, giving them each a little taste of my world.

My first student started working at the studio last week. Alex came in with ideas and questions, and I was thrilled that she wanted to do something I hadn't even done yet!

Sr. Project & studio member Alex

Our ultimate project goal is to make one larger and several smaller pieces using various hand-building techniques and a small range of colored porcelain. That's the new and exciting part for me - I've looked into but never played with coloring clays. So by teaching, I get to be a student again!

test tile & porcelain being prepped for coloring

In our prep stage, and to give Alex a good intro into working with clay before we get to the technical aspects of coloring the porcelain, she made several pinch and coil pots that will be used as glaze tests. Today, she also made a couple of larger bowls using drape molds, giving her the chance to explore creating texture with stamping and sprigging on a larger scale. I cut up the porcelain that we'll dry out and color with mason stains later. Happily, Alex seems to be having as much fun with this as I am! And even better, she may be doing her community service portion of the Senior Project by helping out at the Empty Bowls event.

Alex's notebook, nicely organized for her test tiles

rolling slabs for today's experiments

George putting in duty as a drying station,
prepping the porcelain for the pounding stage

My other Senior hasn't started working in the studio yet, but you'll meet her soon!

And I had to include this photo - I posted earlier about my glazing weekend, and how one of the highlights was the break I took to attend the Soda Chicks event. I forgot my camera, but Suze Lindsay graciously took a picture for me, and it just arrived in the email today! But more than just a gratuitous 'look who I'm hangin' with' blog shot, it really does tie into my little theme today. Stay with me, it's not exactly 'seven degrees of separation', but it works!

Suze Lindsay, Robert Briscoe, me (w/new Briscoe bowl!) & Kent McLaughlin

When I started taking pottery classes in DC, it was very much about my own creative and emotional 'therapy' in a way, as I had been away from actual hands-on creativity for a while. Learning from, working with and watching Jill Hinckley and the other teaching potters as well as students made me want to always have a teaching element in my pottery career. The way I've set up my teaching studio is sort of a hybrid of my experiences at Hinckley Pottery, and of my visiting MudFire Studios in Decatur, GA. Mine is much smaller, but I truly believe this is the best way for beginner and beginning potters to get to know clay: at their own pace and in a relaxed environment. I'm happy to consult anyone who'd like set up a similar system and am available to be flown to say Italy, Spain, Western Canada ... basically Lori needs a vacation.

But I digress ... One of the first workshops I attended as a new student at Hinckley was a demo workshop by Minnesota potter Robert Briscoe, and even though I had barely begun to be comfortable with clay, I still remember his demo, how relaxed he was in his throwing and the sense of possibilities that it gave me. And I love his work and use the bowl I bought at that demo several times a week. Flash ahead to my relocation to Asheville, setting up studio at Odyssey and taking the first of many workshops by amazing teaching potters - this first one just happens to have been taught by Suze Lindsay (who got me thinking about details even on the bottoms of pots!) ... and to make sure every last person in the picture is tied up in my little pottery 'seven degrees', I still long to take a workshop led by Kent McLaughlin, having attempted Limoncello bribery to be his assistant on at least one occasion.

Time to check the drying porcelain, throw the rest of my Empty Bowls and get back to THE LIST.

No comments:

Post a Comment