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updated thu 23 nov 00


vince pitelka on tue 21 nov 00

> if you have someone else fire your pots, use someone else's glaze
> and clay body....well, those are not your pots. period.
> don't show them. they are learning pots

Mel -
I have to speak up about this, and that will not surprise you. "Don't show
them, they are learning pots????" Where in the world did that come from?
Aren't we all learning for our entire lives? What could possibly be gained
by discouraging a student from showing their work because they did not mix
the clay and glaze and did not fire the kiln?

In most highschool clay classes, the school provides the studio, the clay,
the glazes, the firing, but the students use their skills and their
imagination to make the work and apply the glazes. For their part, they
provide all of the creativity and craftsmanship. As we know, in most k-12
teaching situations it would be completely unrealistic to involve students
in clay and glaze mixing and in firing. Generally they do not have a choice
in the matter. So their opportunity to excel comes entirely in the way they
absorb information from books, magazines, and the teacher, and the way they
express their creativity and craftsmanship with the clay. When they do
their job well, they deserve to have their work seen in whatever venue is

ALL students, at every level, should be encouraged to show their best work.
It is a wonderful learning tool, they gain good experience, and if their
work receives any sort of honors it can be a great boost in self confidence,
and most kids need that.

Have you checked out the K-12 shows at NCECA? The work is amazing - really
extraordinary. It is so gratifying that those teachers encouraged their
students to show their work.

Anyone who can follow directions can mix clay and glazes and fire a kiln.
Of course the kind of clay, the kind of glaze, and the firing make a big
difference, and whenever possible we like to have control over all of those
things. But most of the artist's skill and imagination go into the way the
clay is manipulated and finished, and the way the slips/glazes are applied.
And there are so many circumstances where highly respected artists use
someone else's clay, someone else's glaze, and have someone else fire their
work. Does that diminish the finished product? Only if the clay or glaze
is poorly formulated, and only if the firing is poorly done.
Best wishes -
- Vince

Vince Pitelka
Home -
Work -
615/597-6801 ext. 111, fax 615/597-6803
Appalachian Center for Crafts
Tennessee Technological University
1560 Craft Center Drive, Smithville TN 37166

Paulaclay@AOL.COM on wed 22 nov 00

Thanks, Vince for the statement of support for K-12 ceramics students and
their hard work and creativity despite lack of control of firing, glazes and
clay body. I have had high school ceramics students involved in the K-12
National show since it's start. The show has been juried by some mighty fine
(celebrity) potters, who have recognized the accomplishments of these
students, as have the crowds at NCECA who have come to view the show.
Yesterday I received copies of the AMACO student teapot poster in the mail.
Eleven of my advanced ceramics students had work accepted into this national
poster contest. The requirement was that AMACO or brent products be used in
the construction. Some of the students used ready made glazes and some mixed
them. The distinction in not clear from the poster. But today past students
are returning from college and art schools to visit and pick up their
posters. All are very pleased with being recognized, and clearly many are on
their way to being their own potters, completely in control of the components
they use. In the mean time, they feel pretty good about themselves and
continue to study. Rambling here at school, Paula Sibrack Marian, (New
Milford HIgh school) Sherman, CT