A few weeks ago I conducted a clay drawing workshop at Phoenix College. I always enjoy the workshop setting. The students are invested in the topic and the process; there’s an opportunity for spontaneous dialogue in a relaxed atmosphere. There is chatter and laughter and goodies. Always goodies. That’s a pretty regular thing for clay folk. I mean, if you’re gonna make plates you should be filling them.
I have an etiquette rule:
Never gift a handmade ceramic plate/bowl/food-appropriate-vessel empty. Fill it with something wonderfully delicious!
I had great fun at the workshop. I certainly hope the students found it as enjoyable.
I always want to introduce what might be new options for the students. Generate ideas. Whether or not they fully grasp the process, I am most concerned with getting students thinking differently about what they are doing…or maybe it’s, doing differently with what they are thinking…either way, different happens.
When discussing the creating of drawn images on clay, I emphasize the importance of good note taking. Get in your sketchbooks! Run through your ideas on paper where it’s cheap and easy (well…easier). Keep track of glazes, percentages, and order of application (not to be confused with ‘order of operations’, that’s a math thing). If you ever want to repeat your success or avoid another terribad* result, you must take good notes (*terribad = a former student’s contraction of ‘terrible + bad’ to describe a disastrous glaze situation).
With a Boy Scout’s mindset, I went about my drawing demo. Referencing my notes and application order for the drawing, I gathered my glazes, washes and tools. The students had a list of glaze recipes I planned to use. We talked a bit of chemistry while I stirred a particularly slushy ash glaze. Then, with a cupped hand, I scooped up some glaze (careful to avoid the the clump in the bottom of the container). Eyeing the image on my tile, I configured my approach and swiftly slung the handful of glaze onto the ceramic surface. I heard someone comment, “I can’t believe you just did that.”
Boy Scout’s motto: Be Prepared.
I’m familiar with the mark a brush will make. I know how the glaze will react thick and thin on my surface. I was anticipating a different edge and perhaps a lovely errant splash from the seeming reckless application.
My methods appear to contradict the thoroughness involved in research and notes. Indeed, it does look a bit loose (even sloppy…wear protective gear if necessary). Preparation permits me to do what I need to do, which isn’t always what’s expected. The time spent in my sketchbook allows me to apply glaze with abandon.
Cub Scout’s motto: Do Your Best