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rings, workshops, and random replies

updated mon 2 nov 09


Kelly Savino on sat 31 oct 09

Patrick Green's rough, woodfired crunchy clay mug says, "ting!"

Tony's shino woodfired mug with the butt crack says "clack!" and is impervi=
ous to sparrow farts in Arkansas.

Mel's smooth, speckled-stony iron speck reduction mug says, "clunk!" and Je=
ff's up first so he gets to it before I do.

My latest fave is a straight sided number by Ellen Currans, with a nice "di=
ng". I'm up late so I'm all about morning coffee, and real cream, which is =
well worth the treadmill time.

Wind chimes: when I was a teen my mom made some lovely fall-leaf ones out o=
f terra cotta... they said "clack-clack". First respectable windstorm and =
they were shattered all over the ground. I remember her picking up pieces, =
saying, "What was I thinking? It's clay..."

My brother lives in Ohio farm country on land so flat you feel like a bug o=
n a plate... constant wind, trees grow with a lean. Somebody gave him long =
tube metal wind chimes as a wedding gift. After a week he got out of bed in=
the middle of the night, went outside and beat them off the porch with a b=
room handle.

Workshops: I've become a workshop snob. It's hard to pay for two days in a =
hard chair, watching someone ELSE make pots, when I could be in my own stud=
io making discoveries (and some money besides). Plus, good workshoppers giv=
e me ideas I want to try RIGHT NOW, not in a couple of days. I prefer a lon=
ger, hands-on workshop, like summer sessions at Appalachian Center for Craf=
t or Penland, but missing that many work days is no longer an option at my =

Workshoppers are like teachers (and politicians): they might have a great t=
alent and a head full of information, but if they aren't likable, or person=
able, or able to explain and transmit their enthusiasm to others, it's not =
especially useful. I went to a big college with a research focus for underg=
rad. Some of the profs were great scientists, or writers,or scholars, but h=
ad the personality of a mud brick and no real passion for teaching.

I once wrote a thing for Ceramics Monthly on what makes a good workshop. I'=
d probably add some things now. Not talking down to the audience is one... =
a good presenter and decent speaker once lost me by sneering at hobbyists, =
the self taught and "market" potters, betraying an academic snobbery that l=
eft me cold.

A nice collection of what Dannon Rhudy calls "rodeo tricks" is another boon=
... the stuff people jot down in notebooks and later try for themselves. Ti=
ming is crucial, as well... any process that is too tiny to show well, or i=
s repetitive, or takes for freakin' ever, is going to lose the crowd unless=
you're a darn good storyteller in the meantime. Watching a meticulous pott=
er fuss over some little pinch pot you can't see (or too much "cat licking"=
, as Josh DeWeese calls it) makes for a fidgety audience.

I pretend I'm cooking show: demo step one and two of a pot, then and whip o=
ut the already leather hard previously made one (or two) to complete the pr=
ocess. I suspect certain demographics -- Northern and urban audiences, or =
the younger generation raised on quickly changing media -- want more RTPM (=
rodeo tricks per minute) than others might. Personalities and caffeine leve=
ls factor in, as well.

I don't love my current teaching schedule because it involves spending all =
day Saturday away from my family - class runs 10-3, then lab 'til 5. The br=
ight side, though, is that it is very much like an all day workshop setting=
. I have a before-lunch plan and an after-lunch plan, break it up by moving=
between powerpoints and demos and hands-on, and get timing down pat. Lab h=
ours are optional but nobody ever goes home, even after a five hour class, =
because they're caught up in it. They are guinea pigs: I throw them new pro=
jects, measure the "oooh ahhh" factor, get a feel for how long things will =
take, and how well they translate to other hands with a variety of skill le=

We do a lot of laughing in there, too... I honestly enjoy the whole thing. =
My students and I made terra sig from the class slop bucket, and though I'm=
told it "smells like butt", it shines up nicely and seems to take color we=
ll. We raku next weekend...

So life is good. Jeff is now teaching three science classes part time at tw=
o different colleges, while student teaching toward his junior high science=
teacher certification... he's a funny, enthusiastic nerd, a cross between =
Bill Nye and the professor from Gilligan's Island, and he's having a ball. =
I'm teaching one class at the college, two classes at the guild and ten lad=
ies in my studio, and making pots for holiday sales. I made an extruder die=
for the walls of a series of casseroles that have me really interested, ex=
perimenting and inventing.

My 16 year old was one of 350 zombies form his charter school for the arts =
who danced to "Thriller" in a flash mob at the local mall... my 14 year old=
, finally over a week of H1N1 flu, is at a halloween party dressed as a sec=
ret service man... and my only homeschooler (miss Molly) is dressed as a ca=
t, sitting between her two cats and counting halloween candies.

Yeah yeah, too long, too bloggy, bla bla. I'm not running for, applying for=
, or selling anything, so I don't care...

Kelly in Ohio (website) (blog) (store)