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#1 Stephen Robison

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Posted 09 October 2010 - 12:01 PM

What are an intro class in ceramics main objectives. Hopefully not to only teach a bunch of techniques. Here is a small picture into my intro class.

Basic Course Objectives: To learn issues around hand-building techniques and throwing techniques. To enhance your awareness of form and surface in utilitarian and sculptural ceramics by building on your basic knowledge of historical and contemporary ceramics from around the world. And to build on your critical thinking abilities.

3. Learner Outcomes and Assessment Tools:

Learning Outcomes and Assessment strategies

1. Demonstrate proficiency in basic handbuilding and throwing techniques.

strategy-Assignments focusing on a variety of basic handbuilding techniques and throwing techniques and applying specific technical parameters for each assignment.

2. Demonstrate proficiency with ceramics and art vocabulary and ability to conduct a visual analysis of 3-D work.

strategy-Class critiques for each assignment, incorporating individual presentation as well as group discussion for the purpose of assessing the use of descriptive ceramics and art vocabulary.

3. Integrate and apply conceptual concerns and or utilitarian directions. Class critiques for each assignment, incorporating individual presentation as well as group discussion for the purpose of assessing the application of technique and conceptual development.

strategy-Assignments focusing on specific conceptual parameters for each assignment.

In my students first assignment they are asked to do research outside of their comfort zone and chose an article from the front page of a new paper to utilize as their content for the piece.

Before they even touch they clay in every assignment they use a research assignment to get prepared for the assignment. An example follows.

Research Homework Assignment 1

Before class on Monday of week 2 you will need to create a composition that is two feet by three feet on one foot squares of newsprint.

Formal Considerations- this drawing needs to have a background middle ground, foreground and focal point. These pieces of news print can be arranged in either a horizontal or vertical or linear format.

Conceptual Considerations- Content of your tile piece will need to relate to any article from the front page of any newspaper from the last year. It can be abstract or representational and must stay within the guidelines on building an esthetic foundation. Due- Monday of Week 2

In their first assignment I feel it important to stress content. In learning solely techniques student work is not only banal but also students are not investing anything within their personal vision on topical issues and imagery and hence they are not as engaged.

In this forum, as it is on education, I would like to hear from members on intro assignments they feel get their students thought process going. Along with educators I would also like to hear from students who feel a particular assignment they were given was really the ah ha or eye opening moment for them.

Best, Stephen
STEPHEN ROBISON
Head of Ceramics, Central Washington University
Ellensburg WA

http://stiffyguss.blogspot.com/
http://liquidceramics.blogspot.com/
http://teapotspitchers.blogspot.com/
http://woodkilns.blogspot.com/
http://jomonhaniwa.blogspot.com/
http://stephensrobison.blogspot.com/
http://www.flickr.co...ffpottery/sets/

CWU offers; BA, BFA, and MFA Degrees, (Post Baccalaureate also available). Images of CWU Ceramics studio can be seen at

http://www.flickr.co...57623735313670/

#2 Pres

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 10:56 PM

What are an intro class in ceramics main objectives. Hopefully not to only teach a bunch of techniques. Here is a small picture into my intro class.

Basic Course Objectives: To learn issues around hand-building techniques and throwing techniques. To enhance your awareness of form and surface in utilitarian and sculptural ceramics by building on your basic knowledge of historical and contemporary ceramics from around the world. And to build on your critical thinking abilities.

3. Learner Outcomes and Assessment Tools:

Learning Outcomes and Assessment strategies

1. Demonstrate proficiency in basic handbuilding and throwing techniques.

strategy-Assignments focusing on a variety of basic handbuilding techniques and throwing techniques and applying specific technical parameters for each assignment.

2. Demonstrate proficiency with ceramics and art vocabulary and ability to conduct a visual analysis of 3-D work.

strategy-Class critiques for each assignment, incorporating individual presentation as well as group discussion for the purpose of assessing the use of descriptive ceramics and art vocabulary.

3. Integrate and apply conceptual concerns and or utilitarian directions. Class critiques for each assignment, incorporating individual presentation as well as group discussion for the purpose of assessing the application of technique and conceptual development.

strategy-Assignments focusing on specific conceptual parameters for each assignment.

In my students first assignment they are asked to do research outside of their comfort zone and chose an article from the front page of a new paper to utilize as their content for the piece.

Before they even touch they clay in every assignment they use a research assignment to get prepared for the assignment. An example follows.

Research Homework Assignment 1

Before class on Monday of week 2 you will need to create a composition that is two feet by three feet on one foot squares of newsprint.

Formal Considerations- this drawing needs to have a background middle ground, foreground and focal point. These pieces of news print can be arranged in either a horizontal or vertical or linear format.

Conceptual Considerations- Content of your tile piece will need to relate to any article from the front page of any newspaper from the last year. It can be abstract or representational and must stay within the guidelines on building an esthetic foundation. Due- Monday of Week 2

In their first assignment I feel it important to stress content. In learning solely techniques student work is not only banal but also students are not investing anything within their personal vision on topical issues and imagery and hence they are not as engaged.

In this forum, as it is on education, I would like to hear from members on intro assignments they feel get their students thought process going. Along with educators I would also like to hear from students who feel a particular assignment they were given was really the ah ha or eye opening moment for them.

Best, Stephen


Your course objectives seem to be right on for a college course. I, unfortunately, had several bad experiences with ceramics profs in college. Most of the time the demonstrations were at the beginning of the class with throwing as the primary concern. Hand building was demonstrated, but no direction for exploration was given-just cutesy projects. Once the initial demonstrations were completed we rarely saw the prof as a teacher, most of the time it was as a practicing potter, and he was busy if you get my drift. In graduate school I had 3 different ceramics professors at Penn State. As I was a teacher just getting credits in studio work during summers I was an outsider. However, I saw many things happening. The first professor was heavily into Raku and insisted on everyone making raku pottery in a loose format. Hard as I tried, I could not throw loose. He did not really get much out of us other than a lot of really poor over worked pottery that was supposed to have been LOOSE. Second prof was into modular structures, casting and other things that were from the found and manufactured environment. I don't remember a single thing that he said or did in class. These first two were potters that taught. Problem was most of the time their grad assistants were doing the work. I did not appreciate this as even though I was a lowly high school teacher, my skills and knowledge base was greater than most or not all of the assistants.
The last prof was the best of all, and the least in some ways. He was a temporary prof from the mid west that walked in the first day and handed us a survey of skills, techniques, processes, firing types-Everything Ceramic. The next class he handed them all back with personal comments on what we had and had not done. Also, was an individual plan for our semester of work that included things we had not done and challenged things we had done. He was in class everyday wandering around making comments, taking things out onto the grass to critique with us, demonstrating group, and one on one-he was a teacher that happened to be a potter. By the way, he did not use assistants.

My HS classes were based a lot on what you listed, but I had to split it into a 1 & 2 because of our time restriction and our studio size. My projects were based primarily on the handbuilding processes-slab, coil, extruded, combined. I also, included a theme in the project to narrow down the planning process. Themes might have been Houses for slabs one year, or Spirit boxes another year. I used goofy themes at times such as crooked houses, or crazy plumbing, or even hard geometry for extrusion processses. At the same time all of the content I could was thrown in to the project to assure strong joints clean edges and as much as I could about craftsmanship. Planning and research was important as they would have to justify or define their meaning of the theme, and provide thumbnail sketches.

I could go on, but then I think you get the gest here. I believe accountability has change things since the early 70's and into the 80's and profs like I mentioned are no longer around. The fact that you have listed your plan here is evidence of that fact.

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#3 Deb Evans

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 06:12 PM

I always hand out vocabulary, studio rules, book list, web site lists ( I'm adding yours to the list> great site!) , show a lot of pictures. My 1st yr college training was 1 term handbuilding, 2nd term throwing. That way handbuilding was given it's due and many people continued expolring hand work for the rest of their careers. I've met too many clay people that wheel is the only tool they know. A good background in handbuilding makes the wheel just another tool.
Students have used pottery their whole life so I start discssions - 1st day- on astectics, keeping a journel, process of going from mud to rock (diff firings = various results) and what they want to accomplish in the course. Sorry I don't have specific projects , I tend to teach to the individual w/ the goal being > they are thinking for themselves about what they want to create w/in the parameters that we've discussed.

#4 Pres

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Posted 30 October 2010 - 10:24 AM

I always hand out vocabulary, studio rules, book list, web site lists ( I'm adding yours to the list> great site!) , show a lot of pictures. My 1st yr college training was 1 term handbuilding, 2nd term throwing. That way handbuilding was given it's due and many people continued expolring hand work for the rest of their careers. I've met too many clay people that wheel is the only tool they know. A good background in handbuilding makes the wheel just another tool.
Students have used pottery their whole life so I start discssions - 1st day- on astectics, keeping a journel, process of going from mud to rock (diff firings = various results) and what they want to accomplish in the course. Sorry I don't have specific projects , I tend to teach to the individual w/ the goal being > they are thinking for themselves about what they want to create w/in the parameters that we've discussed.


College is different from HS. You need more individualization to deal with a more adult population. My adult classes were always aimed more at where the individual was than at a set project, although I demonstrated projects to give them ideas about how to join, smooth, finish. It also gave me a venue to talk about my beliefs in form and function and the aesthetics of design. Slides would be a part of this often, as would many magazine articles and handouts. High school kids usually have not a clue as to what they would like to make, unless of course it was a bong, and ash tray or a mug. I didn't allow any of those in keeping with my own beliefs, and the school policies!

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#5 BluEyeDirt

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Posted 31 October 2010 - 09:25 PM

In my first (and fateful) ceramics course in college we were assigned a Literary project. This project must bring a story (rather elements/characters/event from) from the page into the third dimension with the following perimeters:

Must Have -

-Textual backing for the finial product.

Cannot be-

-The finial product cannot be under any copy write.
(Meaning no exact replicas of Disneytm movie characters etc)

-No text on the finial product outside what's fictional included.
(Meaning no slab formed letters forming a text bubble but rather if there's a clock involved the numbers are permissible)


so the student was left to choose AND submit a proposal to the professor. The students could use both wheel thrown and hand building techniques.

This project was our finial and also brought an air of competition that took the whole class up in it, which led to amazing results. The most amazing aspect about this project is that my class was full of non-art majors and this finial project made it near impossible to discern the non-arts from the Bfa seeking students. It was also the project that had me signing up for ceramics II and tragically Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image hooked on ceramics



#6 Pres

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Posted 23 November 2010 - 12:00 AM

In my first (and fateful) ceramics course in college we were assigned a Literary project. This project must bring a story (rather elements/characters/event from) from the page into the third dimension with the following perimeters:

Must Have -

-Textual backing for the finial product.

Cannot be-

-The finial product cannot be under any copy write.
(Meaning no exact replicas of Disneytm movie characters etc)

-No text on the finial product outside what's fictional included.
(Meaning no slab formed letters forming a text bubble but rather if there's a clock involved the numbers are permissible)


so the student was left to choose AND submit a proposal to the professor. The students could use both wheel thrown and hand building techniques.

This project was our finial and also brought an air of competition that took the whole class up in it, which led to amazing results. The most amazing aspect about this project is that my class was full of non-art majors and this finial project made it near impossible to discern the non-arts from the Bfa seeking students. It was also the project that had me signing up for ceramics II and tragically Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image hooked on ceramics



My first and fatal class the prof hated me, but it didn't matter the clay spoke louder than he did, even when he shouted! :-}

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#7 Stephen Robison

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 10:00 AM

Pres, that seems very familiar. Intro classes are often taught by TA's at larger Universities and that is how we all get our start. I frankly have to say if there is not good mentoring by the Professor the TA is quite often lost and the undergraduates become almost like guinea pigs. Generally it works out just fine because usaully a graduate student knows much more about the subject at hand than the intro students do. In your case maybe if you already had a good base you probably should have been waved out of that class. You seem to have it pretty under control as a teacher in HS. Keep up the good work!


What are an intro class in ceramics main objectives. Hopefully not to only teach a bunch of techniques. Here is a small picture into my intro class.

Basic Course Objectives: To learn issues around hand-building techniques and throwing techniques. To enhance your awareness of form and surface in utilitarian and sculptural ceramics by building on your basic knowledge of historical and contemporary ceramics from around the world. And to build on your critical thinking abilities.

3. Learner Outcomes and Assessment Tools:

Learning Outcomes and Assessment strategies

1. Demonstrate proficiency in basic handbuilding and throwing techniques.

strategy-Assignments focusing on a variety of basic handbuilding techniques and throwing techniques and applying specific technical parameters for each assignment.

2. Demonstrate proficiency with ceramics and art vocabulary and ability to conduct a visual analysis of 3-D work.

strategy-Class critiques for each assignment, incorporating individual presentation as well as group discussion for the purpose of assessing the use of descriptive ceramics and art vocabulary.

3. Integrate and apply conceptual concerns and or utilitarian directions. Class critiques for each assignment, incorporating individual presentation as well as group discussion for the purpose of assessing the application of technique and conceptual development.

strategy-Assignments focusing on specific conceptual parameters for each assignment.

In my students first assignment they are asked to do research outside of their comfort zone and chose an article from the front page of a new paper to utilize as their content for the piece.

Before they even touch they clay in every assignment they use a research assignment to get prepared for the assignment. An example follows.

Research Homework Assignment 1

Before class on Monday of week 2 you will need to create a composition that is two feet by three feet on one foot squares of newsprint.

Formal Considerations- this drawing needs to have a background middle ground, foreground and focal point. These pieces of news print can be arranged in either a horizontal or vertical or linear format.

Conceptual Considerations- Content of your tile piece will need to relate to any article from the front page of any newspaper from the last year. It can be abstract or representational and must stay within the guidelines on building an esthetic foundation. Due- Monday of Week 2

In their first assignment I feel it important to stress content. In learning solely techniques student work is not only banal but also students are not investing anything within their personal vision on topical issues and imagery and hence they are not as engaged.

In this forum, as it is on education, I would like to hear from members on intro assignments they feel get their students thought process going. Along with educators I would also like to hear from students who feel a particular assignment they were given was really the ah ha or eye opening moment for them.

Best, Stephen


Your course objectives seem to be right on for a college course. I, unfortunately, had several bad experiences with ceramics profs in college. Most of the time the demonstrations were at the beginning of the class with throwing as the primary concern. Hand building was demonstrated, but no direction for exploration was given-just cutesy projects. Once the initial demonstrations were completed we rarely saw the prof as a teacher, most of the time it was as a practicing potter, and he was busy if you get my drift. In graduate school I had 3 different ceramics professors at Penn State. As I was a teacher just getting credits in studio work during summers I was an outsider. However, I saw many things happening. The first professor was heavily into Raku and insisted on everyone making raku pottery in a loose format. Hard as I tried, I could not throw loose. He did not really get much out of us other than a lot of really poor over worked pottery that was supposed to have been LOOSE. Second prof was into modular structures, casting and other things that were from the found and manufactured environment. I don't remember a single thing that he said or did in class. These first two were potters that taught. Problem was most of the time their grad assistants were doing the work. I did not appreciate this as even though I was a lowly high school teacher, my skills and knowledge base was greater than most or not all of the assistants.
The last prof was the best of all, and the least in some ways. He was a temporary prof from the mid west that walked in the first day and handed us a survey of skills, techniques, processes, firing types-Everything Ceramic. The next class he handed them all back with personal comments on what we had and had not done. Also, was an individual plan for our semester of work that included things we had not done and challenged things we had done. He was in class everyday wandering around making comments, taking things out onto the grass to critique with us, demonstrating group, and one on one-he was a teacher that happened to be a potter. By the way, he did not use assistants.

My HS classes were based a lot on what you listed, but I had to split it into a 1 & 2 because of our time restriction and our studio size. My projects were based primarily on the handbuilding processes-slab, coil, extruded, combined. I also, included a theme in the project to narrow down the planning process. Themes might have been Houses for slabs one year, or Spirit boxes another year. I used goofy themes at times such as crooked houses, or crazy plumbing, or even hard geometry for extrusion processses. At the same time all of the content I could was thrown in to the project to assure strong joints clean edges and as much as I could about craftsmanship. Planning and research was important as they would have to justify or define their meaning of the theme, and provide thumbnail sketches.

I could go on, but then I think you get the gest here. I believe accountability has change things since the early 70's and into the 80's and profs like I mentioned are no longer around. The fact that you have listed your plan here is evidence of that fact.


STEPHEN ROBISON
Head of Ceramics, Central Washington University
Ellensburg WA

http://stiffyguss.blogspot.com/
http://liquidceramics.blogspot.com/
http://teapotspitchers.blogspot.com/
http://woodkilns.blogspot.com/
http://jomonhaniwa.blogspot.com/
http://stephensrobison.blogspot.com/
http://www.flickr.co...ffpottery/sets/

CWU offers; BA, BFA, and MFA Degrees, (Post Baccalaureate also available). Images of CWU Ceramics studio can be seen at

http://www.flickr.co...57623735313670/

#8 Stephen Robison

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 10:07 AM

I always hand out vocabulary, studio rules, book list, web site lists ( I'm adding yours to the list> great site!) , show a lot of pictures. My 1st yr college training was 1 term handbuilding, 2nd term throwing. That way handbuilding was given it's due and many people continued expolring hand work for the rest of their careers. I've met too many clay people that wheel is the only tool they know. A good background in handbuilding makes the wheel just another tool.
Students have used pottery their whole life so I start discssions - 1st day- on astectics, keeping a journel, process of going from mud to rock (diff firings = various results) and what they want to accomplish in the course. Sorry I don't have specific projects , I tend to teach to the individual w/ the goal being > they are thinking for themselves about what they want to create w/in the parameters that we've discussed.



GREAT!!


STEPHEN ROBISON
Head of Ceramics, Central Washington University
Ellensburg WA

http://stiffyguss.blogspot.com/
http://liquidceramics.blogspot.com/
http://teapotspitchers.blogspot.com/
http://woodkilns.blogspot.com/
http://jomonhaniwa.blogspot.com/
http://stephensrobison.blogspot.com/
http://www.flickr.co...ffpottery/sets/

CWU offers; BA, BFA, and MFA Degrees, (Post Baccalaureate also available). Images of CWU Ceramics studio can be seen at

http://www.flickr.co...57623735313670/

#9 Pres

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Posted 02 December 2010 - 01:58 PM

Pres, that seems very familiar. Intro classes are often taught by TA's at larger Universities and that is how we all get our start. I frankly have to say if there is not good mentoring by the Professor the TA is quite often lost and the undergraduates become almost like guinea pigs. Generally it works out just fine because usaully a graduate student knows much more about the subject at hand than the intro students do. In your case maybe if you already had a good base you probably should have been waved out of that class. You seem to have it pretty under control as a teacher in HS. Keep up the good work!



What are an intro class in ceramics main objectives. Hopefully not to only teach a bunch of techniques. Here is a small picture into my intro class.

Basic Course Objectives: To learn issues around hand-building techniques and throwing techniques. To enhance your awareness of form and surface in utilitarian and sculptural ceramics by building on your basic knowledge of historical and contemporary ceramics from around the world. And to build on your critical thinking abilities.

3. Learner Outcomes and Assessment Tools:

Learning Outcomes and Assessment strategies

1. Demonstrate proficiency in basic handbuilding and throwing techniques.

strategy-Assignments focusing on a variety of basic handbuilding techniques and throwing techniques and applying specific technical parameters for each assignment.

2. Demonstrate proficiency with ceramics and art vocabulary and ability to conduct a visual analysis of 3-D work.

strategy-Class critiques for each assignment, incorporating individual presentation as well as group discussion for the purpose of assessing the use of descriptive ceramics and art vocabulary.

3. Integrate and apply conceptual concerns and or utilitarian directions. Class critiques for each assignment, incorporating individual presentation as well as group discussion for the purpose of assessing the application of technique and conceptual development.

strategy-Assignments focusing on specific conceptual parameters for each assignment.

In my students first assignment they are asked to do research outside of their comfort zone and chose an article from the front page of a new paper to utilize as their content for the piece.

Before they even touch they clay in every assignment they use a research assignment to get prepared for the assignment. An example follows.

Research Homework Assignment 1

Before class on Monday of week 2 you will need to create a composition that is two feet by three feet on one foot squares of newsprint.

Formal Considerations- this drawing needs to have a background middle ground, foreground and focal point. These pieces of news print can be arranged in either a horizontal or vertical or linear format.

Conceptual Considerations- Content of your tile piece will need to relate to any article from the front page of any newspaper from the last year. It can be abstract or representational and must stay within the guidelines on building an esthetic foundation. Due- Monday of Week 2

In their first assignment I feel it important to stress content. In learning solely techniques student work is not only banal but also students are not investing anything within their personal vision on topical issues and imagery and hence they are not as engaged.

In this forum, as it is on education, I would like to hear from members on intro assignments they feel get their students thought process going. Along with educators I would also like to hear from students who feel a particular assignment they were given was really the ah ha or eye opening moment for them.

Best, Stephen


Your course objectives seem to be right on for a college course. I, unfortunately, had several bad experiences with ceramics profs in college. Most of the time the demonstrations were at the beginning of the class with throwing as the primary concern. Hand building was demonstrated, but no direction for exploration was given-just cutesy projects. Once the initial demonstrations were completed we rarely saw the prof as a teacher, most of the time it was as a practicing potter, and he was busy if you get my drift. In graduate school I had 3 different ceramics professors at Penn State. As I was a teacher just getting credits in studio work during summers I was an outsider. However, I saw many things happening. The first professor was heavily into Raku and insisted on everyone making raku pottery in a loose format. Hard as I tried, I could not throw loose. He did not really get much out of us other than a lot of really poor over worked pottery that was supposed to have been LOOSE. Second prof was into modular structures, casting and other things that were from the found and manufactured environment. I don't remember a single thing that he said or did in class. These first two were potters that taught. Problem was most of the time their grad assistants were doing the work. I did not appreciate this as even though I was a lowly high school teacher, my skills and knowledge base was greater than most or not all of the assistants.
The last prof was the best of all, and the least in some ways. He was a temporary prof from the mid west that walked in the first day and handed us a survey of skills, techniques, processes, firing types-Everything Ceramic. The next class he handed them all back with personal comments on what we had and had not done. Also, was an individual plan for our semester of work that included things we had not done and challenged things we had done. He was in class everyday wandering around making comments, taking things out onto the grass to critique with us, demonstrating group, and one on one-he was a teacher that happened to be a potter. By the way, he did not use assistants.

My HS classes were based a lot on what you listed, but I had to split it into a 1 & 2 because of our time restriction and our studio size. My projects were based primarily on the handbuilding processes-slab, coil, extruded, combined. I also, included a theme in the project to narrow down the planning process. Themes might have been Houses for slabs one year, or Spirit boxes another year. I used goofy themes at times such as crooked houses, or crazy plumbing, or even hard geometry for extrusion processses. At the same time all of the content I could was thrown in to the project to assure strong joints clean edges and as much as I could about craftsmanship. Planning and research was important as they would have to justify or define their meaning of the theme, and provide thumbnail sketches.

I could go on, but then I think you get the gest here. I believe accountability has change things since the early 70's and into the 80's and profs like I mentioned are no longer around. The fact that you have listed your plan here is evidence of that fact.


Alas, after 36 years I have hung up the profession. I retired last year, and now enjoy time with me wife, also a retired teacher of 36 years. I still communicate with the school, go in for workshops and demonstrations that I provide as asked. I was on the hiring committee for my replacement, and she contacts me about things concerning the studio. I miss teaching, but realized that it was time to move on as my work ethic was getting the best of my health-I wore myself out, and was diagnosed with T2 diabetes the month before my official retirement date. I had put in my papers 7 months before. What I got from my beginning class in Ceramics was the hunger, what I got in the later classes was little, so in the end, I worked and read, read and worked. Workshops, and my last grad class really helped to fill in the blanks. I do wish that I had had more of glaze chemistry and theory back then, but I cope.

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/





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