FULLY EQUIPPED CERAMIC STUDIO
The studio where you will work is inspirational. It is a roomy 1200 square feet, brightly lit and inviting which looks out on an aspen covered hillside abloom with wildflowers in summer, aflutter with stunning gold leaves in fall and aglitter with snow drifts in winter. Three 4’ X 8’ tables combine with ample counter top space to insure that you will never feel cramped or crowded as so often happens in workshop settings. You will have free use of the slab roller, clay mixer, light table, potter’s wheel, extruder, compressor and kilns twenty four hours a day. All hand tools and materials are provided and an extensive resource library is always at your fingertips. Since each group is small, everyone will have as much elbow room and personal attention as they need. You cannot help feeling creative in an environment such as this.
YOUR CERAMIC WORKSHOP RETREAT EXPERIENCE
The ceramic decorating techniques you will learn to utilize in your work are largely based on a precise system of mixing commercial stains with white stoneware. The resulting colored clay can either be laid up into striped or swirled multi-hued blocks (similar to a cake roll) which are then sliced, cut and appliquéd on to a clay slab or thinned with water to form slip which is similar in consistency to heavy cream and used like paint. The workshop goal is to complete a small tile mural project utilizing some of these application processes.
Demonstrations on day one will cover the basics of how to measure and mix the clay and slip, correct slab rolling procedures and basic stencil cutting. Following the demos there will be individual discussion of each participant’s design concept and the various options for translating it into a finished piece of ceramic art.
In the afternoons, your time is your own, however, if you wish to finish a project by the end of the session, I would encourage you to take full advantage of the open studio during the first couple of days. This will ensure that you will be able to complete your tile piece in time for firing.
On day two we will delve more deeply into a variety of complex stenciling procedures and innovative slip techniques. You will learn to achieve a soft gradating background with airbrushing, explore a process similar to silk screening which can utilize a handful of simple stencils to achieve a verdant tropical garden effect and be taught how to color a precise transfer pattern with slip trailing bottles.
On days three and four, the demos will focus on bas-relief and three dimensional elements which can be incorporated into large wall installations. These can be functional additions: such as light fixtures, sinks, built in soap dishes etc. or simply fun, fanciful, stand alone elements. Discussions will include innovative uses of glue, wood and steel for mixed media pieces.
Day five will be a demonstration of tile cutting. This session will cover the use and building of an adjustable tool that cuts as well as bevels the tile in one operation. Tips for properly cutting, rolling and finishing the edges of free form designs will be explained along with a discussion of how to plan and size tile installations to properly fit existing wall spaces.
Day six will be glazing day. All the tiles will be numbered and labeled and then over sprayed with a clear glaze coat. Tiles will then be loaded into the kiln where they will be dried very slowly in preparation for firing. Due to time restrictions we will be once firing, thus eliminating the time consuming bisque step.
The day seven lecture will reveal various approaches whereby pre-decorated clay slabs can be utilized in forming vessels and sculptural items. Drape molding is only one of the many building methods that will be demonstrated.
On day eight, the last studio day, the lecture will address repair techniques. This system of building tile and highly decorated, one of a kind ceramic works of art is extremely time consuming and a crack can render a piece unusable without knowledge of how to repair the damage. This talk will include the how to-s of patching and re-firing, ideas on how to camouflage a flaw and lastly the advantages and uses of paper clay, not only in preventing problems but also in fixing them at any stage along the way when and if they do occur.
The overview above is only half the story. It gives an outline of the general curriculum and daily schedule but cannot begin to encompass the totality of the actual experience. A retreat like this is organic and takes on a life of its own, based on the group dynamic. The depth of interaction possible between students, instructor and environment during a 10 day immersion with other like minded and creative spirits is priceless and is guaranteed to provide years of inspiration and possibly even some life long friendships. This is such an exciting opportunity and I cannot wait to share it with you.