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multi purpose classroom?

updated wed 14 mar 01


BonitaCohn@AOL.COM on fri 9 mar 01

Hi. Do any of you have experience with multi-use classroom that includes
ceramics? The San Francisco Jewish Community Center, where I am currently
teaching adults, at night, in a recreation environment, is going to rebuild
on site, after closing for 2 years. The new building will have a ceramics
program, but they also want the room to be multipurpose. Last year, Monona
Rossol was generous and wrote to me specs for a ceramic classroom with all
the safety and health features. But now they are insisting that it will be
multipurpose and want me to give them some guidelines for this. The room will
be 550 sq ft. It will be on the third floor, across the hall from a dance
studio, and offices. Apparently, it is more cost effective to buy new
equipment than to store what we have, so I am grateful that there will be new
electric wheels. We will have a separate vented area for kiln, but this
multi-use thing has me stumped. How can we still offer open studio time and
also partition part of the room for some other activity? Right now we offer
adults, 3 night classes, 2 day classes, and some open studio time. Wednesday
daytime is the children's program. Thanks so much for any recommendations
and input you can give me.
Bonita Cohn in San Francisco,

Jenny Lewis on tue 13 mar 01

Hi Bonita

Yes I have experience, and no I wouldn't recommend it!

My first ever evening class was in a room that was used on the other evenings by batik and wax resisters. The wax and the dye got everywhere, and even though they were a fairly clean and tidy lot and cleared up after themselves, as did we potters of COURSE, nevertheless there was always a blob of sticky wax lurking somewhere waiting to leap onto a pot about to be glazed, and everything around the sink seemed to be covered in purple dye.

Another class, at a school where the admin decided they needed somewhere for a mothers and babies group. The mothers complained because there was nowhere to put their coats and bags without getting clay dust marks all over them. Then they started to complain that the pots were in the way..... actually, that place was trying to get rid of the potters class anyway, and I eventually gave up on them and moved on - to ....

.... another evening class - shared with stained glass of all things! That one was worrying, as bits of broken glass kept turning up all over the place.

I know that it's difficult because there are always funding problems and space is valuable, etc etc, but I believe that a room dedicated only to clay is not a luxury, it's a necessity. In my case, the purple dye washed off (eventually), but the glass cuts could have been bad, and I shudder to think what got eaten by the the babies crawling around. I can't think of many other activities that can co-exist with our mess, sorry, creative clutter.

The good part of what you wrote is - a new purpose built facility with new equipment sounds lovely! Hope it all goes well, whether shared or not.

Jenny Lewis
London UK
typical English weather, I suppose