Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I wrote an article for the Lakewood Observer about 3 great events on May 1st in Lakewood including the Lake Erie Building Open Studio. Check it out here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Last installment of the Strictly Functional Workshop...

Bill van Gilder was by far the most informative teacher I have ever learned from. I was amazed at his technique, handcrafted tools and simple yet elegant wood fired pieces. However I was even more pleased when he offered tips on teaching throwing. As an instructor for the past 6 years I took this workshop because I felt my teaching was becoming a bit stagnant. If I'm bored my students are probably bored. Right?!

Go to YouTube and search for Bill's videos. They are great resources I plan on passing onto my students. (You might know him from his tv show on the DIY Network or his book.)  I was inspired by all of the presenters but I must say that I think every potter should seek out the opportunity to learn from Bill.

Below is a pot that Bill threw then cut away to create handles. Below that is a thrown platter with an altered rim.

I I am now left to sort through my notes and figure out what to do next. With a New York trip  and open studio right around the corner these ideas will need to marinate until after May 1st. Hopefully I can wrangle my attention span and focus on something new and different.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

More from the Strictly Functional Workshop...

I was by Fong Choo's work when I visited his website. His work is so well crafted that it almost appears to be glass in the photos. His demos did not disappoint. He throws small, non-functional teapots. Below is a demo of him attaching handles to one of these tiny pots.

He also showed us some options for handles on the mug below.

Below is an example of his finished work.

What I enjoyed about Fong Choo and Bill Van Gilder was their ability to craft tools specifically detailed for their work. I must admit to being too lazy to ever make my own tools. I would rather be making art then making tools. I was able to pick up a few of these tools from each presenter which I look forward to using in my studio and the classroom.

Also I should mention Fong Choo is an excellent respresentation of artist and business person. The two have become synonomous thanks to the internet. He spoke about doing shows, selling to galleries and not basing your prices on the economy but rather their value.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Strictly Functional Workshop 2010.
One artist/teacher was Sylvie Granatelli. She was the reason I attended this workshop to begin with. I have been following her work for awhile but her recent cover of Ceramics Monthly cemented by interest.

She created a variety of pieces for the workshop including her square dinnerware set and her swan condiment dishes. Above are two photos of her working and then a photo of her work in the exhibit. What attracted me to her pieces were the colors and shapes. She has highly carved vessels but they remain simple. Her views and insights into selling and creating work are very similar to mine. We both enjoy color, textiles, and food. She is technical without bombarding you the student with information. Its tricky sometimes as a teacher. You have to find a balance of instruction to the student coupled with allowing the student to explore the medium in a creative manner.

I was most intrigued by the fact that she was taking notes during the other presenters' demos. I think that is something every artist in every stage of their career should do. You should never stop learning as an artist. The idea that ceramics is still unknown to me and I can never learn everything there is to know about clay is one of the main reasons I still seek out this medium.

I am very concerned with how things are used since my days as a merchandiser. I worry not only about my aesthetic but how the pieces will be displayed and used. I am also highly inspired by textiles and fashion.

I also love to cook. If you follow this blog you have seen my recipes, etc. I think food, its preparation and presentation plays a large part in the work I produce.

I will keep you posted as to how my work ends up being affected by this lovely workshop...

Friday, April 16, 2010

The great artistic rut of 2010.

This year started off quite slow in the creative sense. I was burned out from too many holiday shows. I was busy cranking out production work and didn't feel like I was being creative. I was creating but it was mindless. On and off January, February and March I accomplished very little in the studio because I set out to experiment. I did not enter many shows this summer. Frankly I am sick of them. Its costly to enter and with the current economy the profits are often not worth the time and energy. Instead I decided I would focus on working through new and old ideas while entering juried shows. Still with this new set of goals I was stuck and frustrated. Oh yes, and very VERY unmotivated.

In an attempt to get unstuck (its not a word and I don't care) I decided to seek out workshops. I stumbled across Strictly Functional being held at the Wayne Center for the Arts in Wooster, Ohio. This was of interest for three reasons: I wanted to be a student again, I could not afford to travel out of state and my work is strictly functional. I can gladly say it was the best money I have spent in a very long time. For the past 2 days I observed three amazing teachers and artists. To say I am inspired and have a hundred new ideas would be a mild understatement. Each artist offered a different perspective on working, teaching and selling their work. I must admit I was pleased to hear that we all agree - craft festivals can suck!

I know it must sound hateful when I say this but I truly do not mean it as such. Let me explain it for the non-artists and non-patrons of festivals. Artists are many things. We are of course first, artists. Second we are sales people. We must sell our work and ourselves. We are businessmen and marketing gurus (whether we want to be or not!) We are merchandisers, accountants and deal with customer service. Not anyone can do what we do. Making a pot is not easy. If you disagree then stop by my studio and I'll give you an ass kicking lesson free of charge :)

The point is this...We do these shows and we get a lot of feedback both good and bad. Not everyone understands the time that goes into making a pot or a silver ring or a glass blown vase or a painting. But we are selling a good that not everyone can replicate and something that is one of a kind. Do not ask us for a deal. You want to buy 2 mugs and want a discount? Its not any less work making 2 mugs than it is 1. Its more work so why do you want a price break?

A workshop goer commented that at a festival she overheard a father say to his son, "See these artists. This is why you get a college degree." Apalling, is it not? My response would simply be, "A college degree? Why yes, I have two. Do you have your Masters degree?"

The past two days have affirmed that I am happy to be a potter even if it only is a part time job. I knew I was happy to be a teacher but now I have a whole new source of inspiration to share with my students. And I was happy to be surrounded by 150 people who understood what it is like to think like I do.

In the next few days I will post some photos. I still have to sort through my notes. I hope they make sense. Now my biggest decision is what to share with my students first?...

Thursday, April 08, 2010

My Next Show...

The Orange Art Center is hosting an Invitational Fine Arts and Craft Market.  The event will be held on Saturday, April 17th from 11-5pm and Sunday, April 18th from 12-5pm at the OAC.

Fine arts and crafts will be for sale in this two day show including painting, prints, photography, copper wall hangings, scarves, handbags, recycled glass, jewelry and ceramics.

Participating artists include Jackie Adamany (Blue Orchid Handbags), Deby Cowdin (From the Blue Bag), Gina DeSantis, Jenn Doss, Gretchen Gaede, Erika Hansen, Susan Kleinstub (SusanK Jewelry), Kathryn Patton (Smashing), Susan Skove, Betsey Somershield, Jennifer Szalkowski (Night Owl Glass), Asami Wadi and Chris Zielski (Copper Leaf Studios).

The Orange Art Center is located at 31500 Chagrin Blvd, Pepper Pike, OH, 44124.

Contact Gina DeSantis at 216.831.5130 for more information.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Spring Session:
Wednesday evenings (Only 3 spots left! Spots are not held without payment)
Apr 21, 28 and May 5, 12
4 weeks / 7-9pm

Summer Session 1:
Wednesday evenings
June 2, 9, 16, 23
4 weeks/ 7-9pm

This class is designed for beginning students as well as more advanced students wishing to expand their hand building skills. Using stoneware clay you will earn how to create functional pieces and sculptures using slab, coiling and basic mold techniques. Decorative techniques and glazing techniques will also be addressed.
Tools are available for use. There is no need to purchase any tools separately.

Cost $105. Includes (1) 25lb bag of clay, glazes and 2 firings. Additional clay may be purchased for $15 for a 25lb bag. Payment is due upon registration. Class size is limited to 6 students. Spaces cannot be held without payment. Please note: There is a $25 withdrawal fee. Notice of withdrawal must be received no later than 7 days prior to the first day of class. No refunds will be given after that time.

Class location: 13000 Athens Ave, Lakewood, OH. Studio #328.

Please email to register or with any questions. 

Monday, April 05, 2010

Hey Lakewood! 
May 1st is a day of awesome art filled goodness!!!

Little did we know when planning began for the next open studio event at the Lake Erie Building that it would turn into a whirlwind day of art. A group called the Cleveland Craft Coalition is holding shows at Bela Dubby the 1st Saturday of the month. Check them out from 12-4pm and grab a cup of coffee. Then head over to the Lake Erie Building (or more affectionately called the Screw Factory Artists) from 1-8pm for our annual spring open house. More art. And wine, of course. Can't forget the wine. Or our auction to benefit the Friends of Madison Park. Then hang out and purchase tickets to LEAF's Rutabaga Nights fundraiser from 7-midnight. Hope to see you at one or all of these events!