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QotW: What ceramic skill do you wish you had more training in?

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Hi folks, I am sorry that I did not get a question of the week out last week as I really didn't know what to ask. However, I thought why not ask the opposite of the week before. However, when I go to thinking of it, it would really be two questions. So this QotW is:  What ceramic skill do you wish you had more training in, and what skill do you feel very confident with?

This is one that I have thought often about, as I was trained in college, never having had much more than simple pinch pot experience before even though my parents did a stint with painting cast ceramics at an on base ceramics shop in Hawaii. In college, I had a professor with an MA from Alfred, who was into large forms, but would demonstrate a few forms for us, the plate, the bowl, and the cylinder. Most of what we learned we picked up by doing, but he did cover things like lids and spouts and throwing off the hump. He was very adamant that nothing thrown could be fired until we had thrown a 3# cylinder 9" tall. Most of my time in Ceramics 1 was focused on that. Ceramics 2 saw me with mostly lidded forms, pitchers and casseroles, and a teapot. It was when I began teaching that I really refined my work. Much as doing production work will make a potter, teaching will do much the same. To be able to go into a group of HS students and demonstrate without fail day in and out was tough, and mad me more aware of my flaws than anything else. So I practiced after school, investigated new forms, mad larger forms pushing the amount of clay I could handle and the height of the form. In the end the challenge to the student was to find a form that I could not throw. Hmmm no problem as I had pretty much done all from double walled to large to lidded, rings, multiple piece, combined handbuilding and throwing and more. Not bragging just saying if they wanted a demo, they got one. 

Now where do I wish I had more experience? Two areas actually mold making, and glaze chemistry. I am not the best with glaze chemistry, but have come to inherently know what chemicals will do what for me in a glaze, but really don' understand the balancing of amounts. However the good new here is that glaze formulation programs are available so easily now with things like Digi Fire giving the potter the tools to make their own based on what they understand. Of course this does mean testing, testing and more testing before use.  As I get involved with the wholesale orders lately I have wondered whether making a few different molds from thrown forms  and casting  would be better. . . Naw, but it is something I haven' t done and probably if I had knowledge of it might say Ya!

 

best,

Pres

 

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One of the skills I'ld like to have training in is decorative brushwork, sumi-e type work. Not necessarily black like traditional sumi-e paintings and calligraphy but I'ld love to have the skill (no small ask there!) and instruction to make fluid graceful brushwork with underglazes, stains, slips etc. 

edit: I realized I only answered half the question with my first reply. I would call it a trait not a skill but I can be very determined, relentless, persistent when it comes to trying to figure things out. I think this helps with sorting out the never ending ceramics related issues that arise. 

Edited by Min
added a thought

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I wish I had more glaze chemistry in my studies.   I took a second level glaze class but my professor was tired of teaching it so he turned it into a history class.   I tried to take it again but there was always a waiting list,  I had already passed it so I was at the bottom of the list every year.  I kept a tight watch on my required classes,  I didn't want to  pay for one that wasn't needed,  but I was willing to pay for this class again.  I thought it was that important.     Denice

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There are so many things I could answer with here  but, like Denice, I'm focusing on glazing. While I've taken college level Cer 1& 2, I learned more about glazing in the Raku class, having to mix my own glazes as part of the syllabus. In the other classes we were directed towards the 20 gallon buckets of glaze and their samples and were told to knock ourselves out

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All too often, the college courses for teachers, and non Ceramics majors was negligent on glaze chemistry. Possibly for the lack of appropriate teachers, lack in belief that students needed or even cared about it, and as budget required efficiency, was left out of the curriculum for lack of enrollment. I never had one on glaze chemistry, only a general that told us to read Nelson's chapter on glaze chemistry and be ready for a quiz that never occurred. Oh well!

 

 

best,

Pres

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On 5/20/2019 at 5:32 AM, Min said:

One of the skills I'ld like to have training in is decorative brushwork, sumi-e type work. Not necessarily black like traditional sumi-e paintings and calligraphy but I'ld love to have the skill (no small ask there!) and instruction to make fluid graceful brushwork with underglazes, stains, slips etc. 

edit: I realized I only answered half the question with my first reply. I would call it a trait not a skill but I can be very determined, relentless, persistent when it comes to trying to figure things out. I think this helps with sorting out the never ending ceramics related issues that arise. 

suely not Min! You hide that well:-)))

And others appreciate and  benefit from you attributes!

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I would like to have glaze chemistry sorted. A time to just indulge in the study of this. Did quite a lot of chemistry but life gets in the way of canning it in glazes at the mo. If you ever read of a 100 plus yr old attaining a phd in this field it may be me:-))))

I guess a strength would be never getting'floored' by results and a brain which is a bit like a dog with a bone when it comes to problems... 

and. knowing something might just work but may not and doing it anyway....

 

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My favorite activities during my BFA ceramics years (long ago) were the hands-on making of clay bodies and glazes. I remember naught now (minor brain damage), but I was quite good at it and being in the studio with great instructors and serious co-students/clay artists turned me on to a life-nurturing process when I was on the verge of quitting "big time". I remember one graduate student who was working in a style similar to Jun Kaneko (this was in the early '80s) and seeing her up on the ladder over this enormous form--it took up the entire gas kiln, set sideways--was such an inspiration, it literally helped me to stay put.  So in terms of wishing to have had more training in a particular ceramic skill, I have to say I wish I had more longevity with being able to practice and perform the basics, and then on to the more advanced, more creative, more chemistry-rooted aspects of making clay and glazes. I'd wanna become glazenerd!! ;)

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Lee: let me give you an example of being me.

YOU form your favorite stoneware clay and notice how pliable it is, how it takes texture, how fast it dries, and how plastic it is.

i form the same clay and: 80/10/10, with 8.2CEC,  potassium body flux, with 30% plastic materials. 

You have much more fun than I do :)   But TY.

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