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Madmingei

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  1. Sure JeanB, and good luck with it all!

  2. And that is an attitude I wish more instructors had. I've had a couple who tried to get me to fire every single hideous lopsided lumpy blob that came off my wheel, here since I started wheel throwing again, and then try to lecture me on my "poor self-image". I don't have a "poor self-image". I have a GOOD self-image - I KNOW I am capable of doing better, and don't see any reason to waste perfectly good, reclaimable clay on sub-par work. I'm not an 8-year-old making Daddy an ashtray for Xmas, LOL! It took me FOUR MONTHS to throw a bowl as good as the first bowl I ever threw almost 20 years ago, and in that 4 months I squashed and reclaimed more pots than you could shake a stick at. It's like they don't see the value of practice and experimentation. I was into my third class before I willingly fired a bowl. I fired one at the end of my first class because I got tired of fighting with the instructor over it, but I never bothered to pick it up - he had insisted I dry it with an industrial heat gun so it would make it into the last kiln load for the class, and - understandably, since it was totally wet, straight off the wheel - it started to crack. He went ahead and fired it anyway, but it was not worth firing even BEFORE the heat-gun-induced cracking. And absolutely you should not allow a student to take advantage of you (and inconvenience the other students) and run production out of a class room. But, again, I'm not concerned with full production; or well, I WOULD be, but that's not the issue as I understood it. That clearly is unreasonable in a class room setting. But the odd piece here and there should not be causing a short-circuit. I think it would be better if there were more instructors out there with the produce-lots-keep-next-to-nothing attitude. There's no other way to learn something like this, and with clay, unlike many other mediums, you don't lose anything by wadding it up and putting it back in the reclaim. "I don't need you to remind me of my age. I have a bladder to do that for me." -- Stephen Fry Sojourner, thanks for the comments and sorry to hear all that but it sounds like you have good goals, a great level of self-awareness and know where you are heading - good on you! I do find that role quite difficult as a teacher - ie how to encourage high standards without putting people off! Each student should be sussed out individually to discover what they want. I find people are often scared of self-critiquing until they develop the skills - its not that easy if you don't have an art background - so you might be rare student. I find most students want to keep everything at first! Just to clarify something, yet again (because I seem to have hit on a soft spot!) even though I make it clear about my policy of no selling stuff made in class, I DO encourage people, absolutely positively, to aim to sell their work if they want to and there are exceptions of students who do so within my studio. Usually they are making things that are quite individual and they have developed their own language and they do not abuse my generosity. Its not a matter of me tapping them on the shoulder in an all-powerful way but rather, it is a natural discussion that arises. There are times, like Claylover, when I have bought my student's work too. And I agree with Claylover that studio sales and exhibitions are a great introduction. So, no, it is not a blanket rule, even though they initially sign up thinking it is, but I feel that to articulate the terms up front has been helpful to avoid problems I've mentioned. That is the context I mentioned it in the thread. There may be a better way to spell it out, given I'm expanding into a more commercial space and you have helped me think through this, thanks. Another problem I dont think anyone's mentioned yet is that of students mimicking their teacher's work - mostly inadvertently - but often just because they are using the same clay, glazes, firing and techniques/methods the teacher has developed! Its just natural and often sub-conscious, and we all have influences of our teachers and others we admire - I can trace my own! But sometimes it can be too close for comfort and takes time to work through! Trina, the new thread sounds like a good idea!!
  3. Hi there, I am about to make some new storage shelves for my student's work and wondering if anyone knows some good insulating material that prevents the work drying out too quickly? The students are usually only at class once per week and I would love to avoid the whole wrapping with plastic thing! It would be great if they could make, leave in storage and return in a week to find the work perfectly leather-hard for trimming! Is that a pipe dream or can anyone suggest something wacky? Thanks in anticipation!
  4. Position At The Wheel

    I learnt to throw in Japan and they mainly throw off the hump for small to medium sized pots. Potters in Japan don't seem to suffer bad backs as much - but maybe that's just my narrow experience. This method means the potter is working at a higher height and it therefore allows the potter to work in a more upright position. The wheels are still low'ish but when a big lump of clay is on top the level the potter is working at is quite high. The perfect height is where elbows are at right-angles. This calls into use the core muscles more readily and the potter can become less reliant on tricks like locking the elbow into the hip. Both hands should be used equally for strength. I teach these ergonomic techniques all the time because they just make so much sense to me. As the potter uses the clay and cuts off pots she/he is working slightly lower each time until a point where the dreaded hunch-back appears - then its time to get a new lump! Throw the remaining clay down to a smooth pad and simply put the new wedged lump on top. I find the important things when throwing are to avoid the hunch-back at all times, relax the shoulders, use core muscles for strength as much as possible, equal strength in both hands/arms and never lock wrists into an extended position under pressure of movement. Best of luck!
  5. Has anyone tried putting a plaster batt inside a plastic bin and then sitting the wet work on it & put the lid on? Some college students told me about it but I've never gotten around to testing it out. Its supposed to even out the drying as well as slowing it down....I'd love to know if it works but I suppose I'll just have to try it out if no one knows!
  6. During the winter I work in an outdoor studio in the desert and we use old, non-functional refrigerators to store work in progress and slow down drying on completed work. In especially difficult weather when work is drying too quickly even while wrapped in plastic in the refrigerators, we put a wet towel into the refrigerator to increase humidity. Thanks GG! Sounds a great idea and I have considered it but I think fridges might take up too much space inside....it would be great to have the same insulation quality without the bulk!
  7. Thanks for the great responses to my post everyone. I am new to this forum but amazed at how involved people are! Teardrop, I just want to clarify that in my studio classes students do not buy their clay separately or own any of the equipment. The clay/glazing charges are averaged and built in to their fees but it is at an at-cost amount. This is because I believe that people starting out should be able to produce a lot of work in order to improve their skills. I then encourage them to critique and only choose the best to glaze. This creates a big re-cycling stage for me but I feel its important to me philosophically not to make a profit from materials. It is my teaching which I put value on. This makes it ripe for people who are more advanced or into production to see the loophole and take advantage of it. I have had that situation and it was definitely time for the student to move on. In that case the person even had their own set-up at their home already! It was clear they were taking advantage of my generosity which I provide because of my educational philosophy which is focussed on learning. You've helped clarify for me the big difference between a learning facility and a production facility and I do not want to go down the path of the latter. As Trina says - its a whole different thing. However, I totally recognise it is a tricky dilemma - that blurry line between being a student and being in production. Not easy to navigate for us teaching in studios. I looked at the Mudflat web site - it is awesome!
  8. I enjoyed yr post, esp about student personalities. I'm nowhere near as experienced as you are and would never have started teaching - but having moved from the city to a small town, was coerced into giving lessons. It's been a rewarding experience for all. I will likely start teaching underprivileged kids in brand new studio. May I contact u if I need advice? Wont b a pest but its a bi...

  9. I would like to jump in to this discussion and respond to Claylover's questions above: I have been teaching in my studio for nearly 25 years and am about to expand to a commercial building and employ other artist-potters to teach with me. I started off with just 4 students per class and a couple of classes per week, now it is 7 students per class and in my new studio I will be able to have 12 to a class, two classes running concurrently and around the clock. It used to simply provide a stable cash flow and supplement to my income from my ceramic work but it took over a few years ago and even though I still consider myself a potter first and exhibit widely, I am now also firmly attached to my identity as a teacher. My impending expansion is a result of having a large waiting list and not being able to satisfy demand. My first degree was Art Education (specialising in Ceramics) and I followed that with 5 years of trad apprenticeship-style training in Australia and Japan and then an MA in Ceramics. I take my teaching very seriously and have taught in tertiary institutions, a secondary school and many guest residencies and workshops but my studio classes are the most rewarding and I value them and my students enormously. They choose me! My educational philosophy guides my methodology. It is all about recognising the individual pathway but guiding students within a strong skill-based structure. Rules are only helpful at first - then they are meant to be broken! It is a pleasure to be able to help my students reach their goals and open the world of ceramics to them and I know I can pass on some of the hard-earned lessons from my teachers that I fear will die if they are not passed on. Teaching is therefore my duty as well. But I never forget I am privileged to be able to teach and I also learn from my students all the time. I always price my time according to standard business principles: hours worked(including packing kilns) x price per hour desired (my price per hour has gone up over the years as I have increased in self-confidence and realise I provide a pretty unique product but it is still on a par with other classes and I wouldn't want to charge a lot more). I average my overheads and materials and incorporate these costs into the class fee. (I don't like fiddling around with weighing) I have an amount of work that I consider reasonable and if advanced students exceed this amount they are given the choice to either keep and pay a flat extra firing charge or re-cycle the clay. I always encourage students to aim high and value the process of learning above the product. I do have some terms and conditions that students sign in their enrolment form. This includes not selling their work commercially. When students are good enough to sell their work commercially I tell them, encourage them, and suggest they move on and get their own studio. They are not students any more - even though we are all learning all our lives - they have to take responsibility for their whole production if they want to sell commercially. I also don't want any repercussions on my insurance if something goes wrong with their work! Student personalities: I've hardly ever had any problems. I respect and value everyone and follow some simple humanistic principles. There have been times when some students have been challenging but honestly, compared to a class of Year 9 or 10 kids it is nothing! That's where my teacher training has been really helpful! I also recognise that there are as many different reasons for coming to my classes as there are students and I don't push a particular line. I am excited by open discussions about art and ceramics and I think my students respond to my passion and to being treated with equal respect and integrity. Separation of work: that's another reason I am expanding! There is no more space at home and I am very much looking forward to having my home studio back to myself! I have a large damp cupboard and a large storage rack for students that is separate from my own. Both can fit about 20 student's work (on 1.2m long boards) but above that it gets pretty tight. I also have to continually wrap student's work when leather-hard to stall it from drying. This is a real hassel (suggestions welcome please!!) The only comment I would make is that students do value being in a professional artist's studio and seeing work of a (hopefully) higher standard around to inspire them. The opportunity to use my work as teaching resources, ie to illustrate different aspects of form or surface, sometimes works in my favour as a "soft-sell" whereby the students end up purchasing a piece! It is a nice outcome and I always give them a discount! Space: I have an area for classes within my studio, about 18m2, and the wheels are a fold-up style and pushed under the tables when not in use. I can expand into that space when I'm working on my own work in between classes but then have to move stuff back when its class time. It is a hassel but its the downside of teaching in my studio. Glazing is only done in the final lesson of the term (8-week term) so wheels are packed away, glazes brought out onto the tables and the whole cycle is finished with a firing that I do for them. I hope this is helpful. I have a question for anyone in a similar situation: given I will have the potential for a few hundred students in my new studio, space is going to be even more of a premium! Does anyone have any suggestions for good storage solutions for work in between classes that allows work to dry slowly (over a week) ??? It must be well-insulated for that reason. I've been looking at loads of shelving solutions online and not found anything insulating..... Thanks for this forum site, happy potting and happy 2012!
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