Saturday, July 31, 2010

Week 6...

Say it aint so Jim! The end is near. I am now entering Week 6 here inside the Chautauqua Institution. I have survived past the midway point and am now entering what looks to be like the homestretch. There are 2 more weeks of classes left and my 5 resident students will have a pretty aggressive critique with a group of faculty in front of all their peers. They only have next week to get their work finished and to be prepared for the onslaught. It looks like I will be firing my ass off for them as well as for our classes. Speaking of our classes, we have new incoming faculty that will stay with us for the last 2 weeks...Justin Lambert and Neil Forrest. I'm looking forward to both of these guys...I met Justin last year here and also got to hear his wood firing talk at NCECA in the Spring. I know there will be some serious grilling and quite possibly a few cold ones consumed during his visit. I have never met Neil but I have seen his work in the ceramic mags here and there and I am very excited to meet and work with him.

This weekend we say goodbye to our buddy and morale booster Jim McDowell and also to Jim Connell and his lovely wife Paula Smith. I thought Paula did a great job teaching hand building for the week. I often think we should offer specific classes and hand building should be one. This is a great place for 97% of the folks who come to take the clay classes should start. They can learn how to properly join clay and learn a more sensitive touch, these skills can then be carried over to throwing. Often students in the week long throwing class are frustrated...lets be honest here, its hard to learn how to throw on the wheel and expect a glazed little something in that amount of time. Anyways, we also had a great time with Frank and Polly Martin for the first few weeks. They are always easy going and wonderful folks to work with... Polly hung out for 4 weeks and Frank took off to teach a couple weeks worth of workshops at Anderson Ranch. While Frank was gone Christian Kuharik filled in...he was great and we all enjoyed working together.

As this summer season begins to wane, I am finishing up the surface work on a group of fudge brown stoneware pots and wall pieces, loading and firing the salt kiln this week as well as breaking out some gold luster for the final firings. Oh yeah, and I am firing a cone 10 reduction in the Blaauw kiln as I type this out...sometimes I really like that kiln. I am also looking forward to getting back home...back to my own space. I am missing my garden and dinners on my back deck. I am also ready to get back into making working for the wood kiln...can ya' hear me Nancy!

Soon enough it will be time to batten down the hatches but in the mean time I'm concentrating on a strong finish...check back for the salty goodness post soon to come.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Taking A Break...

Its nice to go places but its always nice to come back home too. I am taking a breather from the Chautauqua bubble right now and I am back home in PA this weekend. There are many things that need my attention here...mainly my garden. There is a whole lot of weedin' to be done throughout the veggie patch and all the flower beds. My garden is in need of a good deal of TLC...the tomato plants are falling over, the basil needs cut back, and I need to wrangle in these crazy pumpkin vines somehow. As I type this post out however, I am watching a nice summer storm pour down on everything so even my favorite chores will have to wait... But first things first this morning...I got to use my new majolica batter bowl from Christy Culp to whip up a batch of pancakes for me and the girls...and whats the morning without a whole lot of fresh ground Sumatra beans to go with the fluffy and savory goodness that is breakfast. I have missed drinking from my Ayumi Horie mug, so it was an easy pick for my morning java. Thanks for the great looking & functioning bowl Christy!
I will be returning to CHQ tomorrow...back to the ceramic studio. Our visiting faculty for this week will be Jim Connell from North Carolina and Jim McDowell from the steel city...Pittsburgh for those of you who don't know. We are also firing the salt kiln this week now that we have new blowers and Dan has repaired the pilot on one of the burners. Be watching for more pics and posts.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

One Million Big Ones...

This week here at The Chautauqua School of Art we received a huge gift. Joan R. Lincoln and her husband David, gave the art school a million dollar endowment to be used to fund the The Joan R. Lincoln Ceramic Studio. See above picture...(thats Joan and her husband with the symbolic gift of a great Frank Martin teapot and in between them smiling real big is Don Kimes, the Artistic Director for the school). The endowment ensures that the ceramic program will be in place for many, many years to come. This extremely generous gift is not the first we have received from the Lincolns. They are also responsible for funding the renovations of the 100 and some odd year old building that is the ceramic studio. Joan was trained as a potter when she went to college and has had a great passion for ceramics ever since. I have gotten to know Joan some in the last couple years ...she comes to the studio and throws just about everyday still and we often have conversations about her awesome collection back in Phoenix, Arizona.

We here working through the summers, dealing with the community classes as well as the resident students, often bitch and moan about the bitching and moaning from the Chautauquan crowd. But this gift by the Lincoln's is such an example of generosity and commitment to a place and medium that it might just shut my smart ass mouth up for the rest of the summer...or for a week or so...or...maybe I will just keep that feeling in the back of my head and pull it out when I need an attitude adjustment.

On another note, I have some mugs glazed and waiting and some firing now as I work soon to come...will post again soon...goodnight from a strange and special place.