With more than a little gentle nudging, I started sharing my studio and offering workshops to small groups of my fellow potters in the summer of 2011. Soon, word spread and my mailing list grew. Two workshops and a few tag-along firers in the initial year steadily increased to eight full sessions and nearly 20 additional firing participants last year. I can only imagine what excitement the future holds in the year ahead.
Given the cozy size of my studio and my only child related personal space issues, carriage house workshops are limited to four participants. I have designed a workshop program that includes four four-hour handbuilding sessions, a five-hour glazing session and culminates with a daylong series of firings. Multiple meetings and longer sessions give the people in my workshops the opportunity to try lots of new techniques, refine skills and create beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces.
Past experience has taught me that glazing on firing days ads chaos to an already exciting process. It is just so hard to be in two places at once. Plus, without the demands of running the kiln, I can spend lots of quality time with my fellow artists to determine what glazes and firing techniques will bring out the best in their work. So to make a awesome experience, I add an extra glazing day to the workshop and encourage folks to glaze two thirds of their during the week leading up to the firing.
The highlight of every workshop is the firing day. Everyone has spent over twenty hours in the studio and created from eight to twelve pieces. Based on everyone’s schedule, we will spend the day firing our work in small batches of six to eight pieces. I refer to raku as pottery for the impatient. The first load usually takes two-and-a-half to three hours to reach temperature so I am typically out at the kiln to load and light it as the sun rises. After the first firing, the day buzzes along with a fresh batch of work coming out of the kiln every hour or so. Based on results, we choose glazes for remaining pieces and have a blast. We nibble tasty snacks and salads. We get really dirty. We laugh and giggle. And we swear there is no better way to spend a day.
My thanks go out to all of the folks who have participated in my workshops over the past five years. Their pieces are a testament to both their love of the artform and skill in its execution. And their companionship and camaraderie make cleaning up my studio and sharing my space a joy beyond words.