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workshop report

updated thu 2 nov 00


Dannon Rhudy on mon 2 nov 98

Dateline: Paris, Texas

We just finished a weekend workshop with Doug Gray
of Francis Marion in Florence, S.C.

It was a terrific workshop; Doug is a remarkable teacher and
the students and visitors were absolutely mesmerized.
He showed them a number of different ways to make his
quietly elegant double-walled bowls, plus all kinds of other
things, including some delightful small one-piece lidded
containers, which were absolute treasures. He also explained
some methods of dividing space for carving, piercing and
other decorative devices - extremely useful information.
Why didn't I think of that?

Doug's craftsmanship is superb, and I was delighted to
see the students absorbing that information visually. Talking
about it is nowhere near as important as seeing it, in my
opinion. And seeing it all day, consecutive step after consecutive
step, is more impressive than a relatively quick "lesson" in
class. Eyes just got wider and wider as one impressive vessel
after another emerged from his hands.

There was a lot of laughter - Doug tells good stories - and
good conversation. Good food, too.

All in all, a fine workshop. If you get a chance to go to one
of his, don't miss it.

Dannon Rhudy
Paris, TX (I failed to say "Texas" last post, and had inquiries from
many other
"Paris"s, including Paris, Ontario; Paris, Tennessee; Paris, Kentucky. No one
wanted to know if it was Paris, France.)

Bonnie Staffel on wed 1 nov 00

Dear Clayarters,

Thought I would write about our recent workshop which was very exciting with
the pit fire and enthusiastic participants.

WORKSHOP - Pit Firing and Altering Forms, the Wheel as a Tool

Ed Gray and Bonnie Staffel presented a workshop the weekend of Sept. 22 in
Fennville, MI, covering two aspects of working in clay: ďPit Firing,Ē and
ďAltering Forms, the Wheel as a Tool.Ē Friday night plans were to start the
pit firing, but Mother Nature intervened with rain all day so that was
postponed. We moved our Saturday schedule to start that evening. Each
student was given a wheel thrown sphere with instructions to paddle,
texture, alter the shape, etc., being given numerous objects from nature to
use as they wished.

Saturday arrived with the sun shining so decided we could possibly have time
to do the pit firing and have it cooled by Sunday afternoon. Ed took charge
of showing how to arrange the combustibles and the prepared bisque pots in
the six foot wide pit. The pit was lit and it was a beautiful blazing
sight. All took turns adding logs to the pile as the firing proceeded.

While the pit was firing, Ed and Bonnie proceeded to demonstrate throwing
pots on the wheel adding extrusions, other thrown parts, textures and slabs.
During several breaks, the students were given more clay spheres with the
challenge to create new forms with additions learned from the
demonstrations. There were lively discussions and questions from the

Sunday morning another beautiful day arrived; the pit was checked for
progress; the firing had reduced to smoldering embers. Bonnie finished up
the pots she had started on Saturday and Ed demonstrated the preparation of
terra sigillata, how to apply and polish the pot. The students pulled
extrusions and created objects almost beyond the imagination. After lunch
all were eager to see what the fire had produced so we started to pull the
pots from the ashes, still quite hot. There were lots of comments about the
colors produced after the pots were washed, always a surprise. The session
was wrapped up with more questions and discussion. The students left eager
to practice what they had experienced at this workshop.

Edís studio is filled with a wealth of artifacts from nature as well as a
feast for the eyes. There are masks, stained glass, primitive art
sculptures and Edís array of equipment and tools which provide him with the
means to create his work and teaching that reflects his native American
heritage. Bonnie brought her experience of 52 years as a professional
potter and her expertise of using the wheel to create varied functional pots
and sculpture.

Bonnieís work can be seen at Bier Gallery, six miles south of Charlevoix on
US 31.
Edís web site provides his schedules of workshops, classes, pots and studio
information, at Edís gallery is open weekends in at
2296 58th Street in Fennville, MI.

Regards, Bonnie Staffel, Charlevoix, MI.