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pitelka workshop at mcdowell's farm

updated sun 31 aug 97


Joyce Lee, Jim Lee on fri 22 aug 97

Jim and I returned today from Vince's Antique Clay workshop in
Bellingham WA at Michale McDowell's gorgeous pottery/farm. As promised,
this is somewhat of a report. My mind is still adaze at such glorious
experiences. Vince is an incredible teacher. Those people at the Art
Center in Tennessee are bonkers to consider closing out that program! I
wish I could send all of you photographs. We worked until late, late
creating coiled masterpieces with puhkies (sp), making and applying
Vince's own VERY SPECIAL terra sigilatta and working on the superbly
constructed pit for firing, just to touch on a few high spots. This
sounds far more simplistic than the reality. Some of us were potters
with as many as 20 or 30 years' experience in sculpting and/or
functional pottery. (Not I, of course.) We all still learned beyond our
expectations, which were high. Did you know that Vince can sing and
accompany himself on the guitar? This was NOT amateur hour by the
campfire! The distant neighbors' shouts of "Bravo" rang through the
evening air after each rendition as did our stunned applause. This is
an enormously talented artist! He can cook, too. Using Michaels freshly
harvested large, crisp, tender vegetables, we all took turns making each
meal an event. Even the onions (Walla Walla Sweets) were spectacular.
We loved getting to know and appreciate our British Columbian colleagues
as well as clayarters Amber, Erin and Mary. Putting names with faces is
memorable enough, but to get acquainted with personalities is even
better. The opening of the pit, of course, was the highest excitement.
Even this intermedie wound up with three large gorgeous satin black pots
with flashes of coppery something or other. Such high energy! Our BC
potters requested Vince to come put on a workshop for their group in
Antique Clay, Colored Clay or "anything you'd like." That's how much we
all valued the experience. I loved pottery before this workshop, and
have been a potters' groupie for several years, but this was the best,
without a doubt. My support person agrees totally and he is an
experienced appreciater, but a newbie to clay.

Most important though was the work, which began very early and went on
often well after the campfire for much of the night. We were inspired!

Oh My G-- sweltering in the Mojave and recalling the cool, green

Lynne Antone on mon 25 aug 97


I second your emotion. I was in the first session and it surpassed my
expectations. Michael was such a gracious and accomodating host. Vince was
patient with all the levels of potters (I hadn't done any coil work since
high school, 30+ years ago), had a wonderful slide show we saw in small
pieces over the course of five days, explained the process so well, lots of
handouts to refer to later and kept the fun/seriousness of the craft going
amidst our occasional frustrations. I feel like I could now pass on some of
his methods for terra sig/coil building/pit firing to students I hope to have
in the future. I'm getting more interested in the Colored Clay workshop, too.

Kayo accompanied Vince on the fiddle and one evening brought out her hammer
dulcimer, beautiful. The rest of us musically challenged in the group, Evan,
Sherry, Warren and Michael, had a drum from Michael's collection and quietly
tried to keep time. The setting was gorgeous; we worked in his barn with
garlic bunches hanging on all sides and the huge door open the whole time to
make you feel like you were working outdoors. I'm hoping Michael continues to
offer classes as time goes by.

Vince's slides of the center showed all kinds of pottery work being done by
people attempting to further their knowledge and skills. I hope his program
continues, there are so many of us thirsty to know more and limited places to

Lynne Antone
Olympia WA
Joyce, you say it's hot there? We've just had our third torrential downpour
today and my almost empty rainbarrels are overflowing. Wish I could send you