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finally able to talk about nceca

updated tue 21 mar 06


Jacqui Kruzewski on tue 21 mar 06

This is by way of saying thanks to all those at NCECA who were so great to
me. It's a little late in the day, seeing as I got back last Tuesday
afternoon, but I was back to work the next day and this has been my first
chance to get my thoughts together and write.

I'm sorry Tony, i may get a little soft and cuddly - not too much I hope.

It may seem a little strange that I should travel as far as I did for NCECA
- this one was even further than to Baltimore, my first. Of course we have
lots of pots in the UK, lots of wonderful potters. A great festival -
Aberystwyth. (Can you pronounce it yet Joyce? I'm doing well with
Louisville!). But NCECA is becoming addictive, I think.

NCECA is more for me than just the event. This year i greatly regret that I
unaccountably missed the gallery tour. Barb's pictures compensated a little.
But everything I get to see, virtually every pot, is new to me. Just as, if
you travel to UK you will see everything anew. My budget and my carry on
luggage is too small for me to bring home anything much more than a couple
of exchanges. But the photos and the memories of the pots I encountered are

I found the demonstrations disapointing this year. I just couldn't see. The
demonstrators never seemed to really get on with it, the sound was bad, the
screens badly placed and there was a constant coming and going of the
audience, chatter, milling around. I got much more from the demos in the
vendor's booths. Hank's was very good indeed. I've been describing the
method of the foot on the plate to as many people here as will listen, and i
was one who did buy a tool. I shall be practicing that rolled foot, till I
get it right.

Next time i'm going to get myself a good watch (I never usually wear them as
they tend not to go well on me) - and take note of the things I don't want
to miss. Time tended to get away from me, so I missed some things, but then
saw others that were surprising. I enjoyed Lee Burningham's presentation on
teaching clay in schools. And of course the K12 is humbling. I also saw a
couple of student presentations that really impressed me. There were many
other things too.

Staying in a hotel where everyone was a clayarter was a brilliant
experience. One remove from the rest of the world I think - smiles and
introductions and hugs (sorry Tony) and just plain good hearted good
mannered happy people. A bit of a change from home, folks! Never as a
stranger have I felt more at home than with clayart people. In amongst
discussions about designs of revolutionary kilns and formulations of matte
shinos - much of which went over my head - well it was great. And people, in
their quiet way being kind and generous. Never being made to feel a lesser
being because the glaze calc discussion went over my head, or being in the
presence of genius, or greatness (not mutually exclusive) and not being so
good myself.

Going out to dinner every night, sightseeing round Portland - these things
were all new and will be forever remembered. Even unintentionally
gatecrashing Bacia's inner circle. As a tourist, these experiences would
have been denied me - because the company is so important. This may not be a
cost effective way of learning new techniques and changing one's work - with
that i completely agree, but for me its about something else. It's about
communing with friends and aquaintances I never met before who all have clay
in common, and feeling a part of a movement. It bouys me up and sends me
home enthused and enabled to make better pots than before.

Last year, at the opening ceremony, an educator giving a prize gave a speach
that resonated. It was my first trip to the US, my first ever time flying -
and so on. She said that in order to improve our work we should get out of
our comfort zone - either by travel or by working with a different
socio-echonomic group. I paraphrase - but I'm sure you get my drift. I
believe her words, bourne from her own experience, were so true for me.

This year Marilu's quiet advice set in motion a train of thought and a new
direction unforseen - and yet most of the strands have been there, in one
form or another, for all of my potting life. Pots that can only say "I'm
blue and I'm (kinda) pretty" will now be making way for pots that say
something about me and my deeper concerns. Pretentious? maybe, I'll just
have to wait and see how they turn out. It happened at NCECA - wherever it

By now most of you will have drifted off this mortal plain. Sorry, I get
carried away (or should be!). Thankyou one and all for another wonderful
experience, and especially to my room-mates Ilene, and then Billie, who were
fantastic, and to Mel for organising it all. Everyone else - you know who
you are. (this is sounding like the Oscars!).

Finally (as they drag me away) - Sally and Darrell McLeod, your lovely bear
is where i imagined him when i first unwrapped him at the exchange - on the
windowsill with his back to the mountains and the cold East wind. He looks
right at home and gets fondled regularly.

Love to you all.


North Wales.

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