Michael McDowell on sun 17 may 98
You'll pardon me I hope. You may have noticed I've been a little windy on
clayart of late. And now I'm cooking up some hairbrained scheme that has me
leading pottery classes again! What's going on is that my mind is wandering
to all these different subjects while my back is bent toiling with the soil.
Then when I need a break I dash in and try to get it all condensed in
This latest scheme could really be the dumbest one yet. I don't know, there
could be a spark of brilliance in it. I've not been happy with how my
attempts to give classes have gone in the past. Too much emphasis on
technique, specifically the wheel. End result, in my estimation, has been
students leaving class with skills, but no clue about what to do with them.
I'm trying to envisage a different sort of format for a pottery class. One
that puts more emphasis on discovering why they would want which skills, and
developing the attitudes that will enable them to see themselves developing
these skills on their own when they want them. This is strictly at the
conceptual level right now, "vaporware" as they say in the software
industry. But would you mind taking a look at what I've got down in words so
far and let me know how far up my butt you think my head might be on this?
A Different Kind of Pottery Class
1.. Pottery Appreciation Do you think you like pottery, but aren t
sure you know what s good and what isn t? Do you buy pottery thinking it
will be just perfect for this or that purpose, and then find when you get it
home that it really doesn t suit your purpose at all? Do you wonder if it s
safe to put your handmade pots in the microwave or dishwasher? Do you worry
that germs are going to get trapped in all those little cracks in the glaze
of your favorite bowl? Are you concerned that the pots you have may leach
harmful chemicals into your food and drink? Do you wonder why some potters
work is so much more expensive than others? Would you like to be a much
better informed user and buyer, perhaps even a wise collector of pots? This
class will address all these issues and more. Emphasis will be on giving you
confidence in your own knowledge and good taste in pottery and an
appreciation of the variety of tastes that can be served by various types of
work. There will be no attempt to arrive at a single standard of what
constitutes "good work", but rather an appreciation of the variety of tastes
and types of work available in the marketplace today.
First Assignment Bring two pieces of pottery that you currently own,
one of your most favorite and one of your least. Be prepared to state
something that pleases you and something that displeases you about each of
2.. Pottery skills building Just about everyone has some level of
skills with clay. This class is about learning how to build from there.
Whether you are an experienced mud pie maker or are already producing
saleable wares, you undoubtedly have your strengths and your deficiencies.
While this class will offer some instruction, and sharing of skills between
participants will be encouraged, its focus will be on empowering you to
learn to build your skills and pursue your interests in clay on your own.
First Assignment come to class prepared to present an assessment of
where you stand with clay today, and where you think you d like to go with
3. Changing directions in clay Are you stalled out in your work with clay?
Or has it taken over your whole life and yet your life isn t going where you
want it to? Is your passion for it fading? Do you wonder if maybe you ve
taken a wrong turn somewhere? Perhaps your circumstances have changed and
you are no longer able to pursue your interest in clay in the same way you
once did. Then this group is for you. We will focus on identifying where
your individual passion lies. We ll explore the variety of options for how
clay work can be a meaningful part of a meaningful life for you. We will try
to help you locate the resources and information that you ll need to make
the transition to a more satisfying relationship with clay.
First Assignment Come prepared to briefly tell us your sad tale.
OK Vince, fire away won't you please!