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About anagama

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  • Birthday 10/29/1974

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    Warner, NH
  1. These kinds of threads drive me crazy... I just have to respond. But, I'm also in class right now, but my students are working on their final exam projects... so, I will give it a shot (keep in mind, I've already been interrupted five times.). I am an artist! I am a teacher (high school, art, particularly ceramics, sculpture and 3-D Design)... and a proponent of a new, soon to be paraphrased statement, "If you can't do it, you can't teach it!". And, given my unique circumstances, I may offer some unique insight to this topic. (sit down, this might take a while). I grew up in a house with a teacher (math and science), and hearing the arguments at the dinner table over money was enough for me to decide that I would never teach anything! But sometimes, the right fit finds you and not the other way around... and for me, "teaching" was the right fit. How I got there was not how most people get there (and I do, to some extent, agree with what you have to say on that matter.). I went to college to become an artist (at a very reputable school), I earned a BFA in Fine Arts with an emphasis in Ceramics... I have a degree in clay, simply put. And the options for jobs are minimal... so, I went to grad school to earn an MFA in ceramics... to become a professor, like the thousands before me. Only thing... An MFA program is not set up to teach you how to teach, they just hand you opportunities to gain teaching experience in a "sink or swim" fashion. Being young (for an MFA), I dropped out after two years in a three year program. #snowboardbum for a couple years afterward, being bumped from clay studio to factory to summer camps... I've done it all, just about. At the urging of my mother... I would once again, go back to school... this time, to become a teacher! Most schools offer a "conversion" program for degree students, it's a tag-a-long of educational practices and pedagogy (along with student teaching) that accompany your previously earned degree in your content area. In my opinion, it's the only way teachers should be trained. Content first! Pedagogy second, but you must have both. Educational certification is monitored by the "state". I don't know where you live.... or what state you reside in... or how they go about certifying teachers... and the fact that they pay for some of these courses for you, probably means you're in a nicer place than me. But it's not "states" that make teachers... it's not pedagogy... it's not years... classes... credits... or studio time. Great teachers make great teachers! And, I have had my fair share... at every grade level throughout... each remembered by name... and modeled after... all with different qualifications, all with different strengths... all with content knowledge! I am an artist because of what I have learned... but I am a teacher because of who taught me. We teach art... why or how... because we were taught by someone. What makes clay/potters unique is, well... working in clay is as old as time... and teaching others how to work in clay has continued since it's inception... in other words, we have the longest line of teachers than any other profession... and one of the proudest lineages that can be followed back almost forever. Who taught you? So... to answer your inquiry... how long should a program be to teach art teachers... eternity sounds good. I still learn everyday... As far as creating art... I'm always doing that, not nearly as much as I would like... but I have summers off, and I create in my classroom (quick and fast way to earn students respect)... I have a studio in my basement... I rebuilt my own kiln... my wife bought me a wheel... and I consider my lucky to be in the position that I'm in... because, I don't just make work... I make what I want to make... no stress from the demands of production to make a living, or show deadlines... no "rep" to continue, locked into one easily identifiable style that people associate with me and me only... I am a free artist... And teaching? I've been teaching high school ceramics for ten years... I've had over a thousand students... that's like almost 4 thousand pinch-pots! I have had tens of students go on to art schools... several who have earned BFA's... four in ceramics... with five master's in Art education... and one owner/operator of a community ceramics studio! And one can not do that if one can not do what they teach. More importantly, I have always considered myself an artist first... I plan to teach for 20 years (half way done already)... then end as an artist once again! It's all just how you view your "paradigm".
  2. I recently was in the same predicament, fortunately I have a lot of kiln repair experience and was able to repair a far-gone kiln that I got for free for relatively cheap (compared to a new kiln). First thing I would do is to locate an operator's manual for your specific type of kiln. Locate the company site online and request a copy of the manual (most of them will do this for free), that way you will know exactly what parts you need or type of brick (often made to fit). I won't lie, firebrick (soft brick for most electric kilns can be expensive as much as $7-11 a piece depending on grooves or inserts... like on L&L kilns). The damage you described sounds workable, and you could even use kao-wool to insulate any gaps that may hinder reaching temperature. Kiln sitters are independently made by a completely separate company. The part you describe sells for $7.50 each at Clay-King.com, or $14.00 for the pair (you might want to get a pair, that way you have an extra one)... and if the kiln sitter seems to be in disrepair they also sell entire kiln sitter units at a reasonable cost compared to other sites. They also have posts for around $3.00 depending on their size, and if you only have a few shelves and tri-post them, you probably won't need more than 12 of varying sizes. Good luck, sounds like you find a kiln in decent condition... usually they require a lot more TLC and money than what you've described. You could get everything you need for only $30-40 (without repairing the brick). Of course, getting the necessary plug installed by an electrician for a 220v kiln or having the kiln hard-wired is going to cost between $300-400.
  3. I've recently had a conversation with my wife about the future of my work. Currently, I do not sign my pots. I have never signed my pots... I would like to think that my approach to this topic comes from two distinct, yet contrasting, belief systems. One: I tend to side with the philosophy of Shoji Hamada (who never signed his pots) that the work itself, when hand-made, is naturally and utterly signed by the maker at each stage of it's production... and from a more humble perspective, that my work has not yet matured to a point where I feel comfortable signing my name. I have always believed that people should buy my pottery because they like it, not because it has my signature on it... and only once have I encountered a person who did not purchase my work strictly because it was not signed. I have often joked with my students (I'm a ceramics teacher) that I do not sign my work because I often envisioned people trying to hock my wares at the antiques roadshow, claiming they had a "Martin" original because of the signature... knowing full well that it was a fake... because I "never" signed my pots. My wife thinks this line of reasoning doesn't fly anymore, and that I must start signing my work... and all that supportive "you're good enough" mumbo jumbo... So... My question to all of you is... "how do you approach signing your work?" and when did you start? if you always have, how has your signature changed... what do you do, symbol or hand-sign? What is your "philosophy" about this topic? I know its something that everybody approaches differently... I'm just curious... and think that it's a good topic for conversation from the beginner to the professional... let me hear what you think... and I appreciate anything that you have to say.
  4. I'm a high school ceramics teacher with some "clay recycling" problems and am looking for some advice. Currently, this is how I recycle our clay (a low-fire red). - I start by drying out any scrap clay completely in small pieces... sometimes using a mallet to break down larger chunks. (dry clay seems to be less "germy" and slakes better) - I place the clay in a large bucket and fill with water until the water line is just over the dry clay. - I wait a couple days (sometimes more) for the clay to slake down into a mush. - Then I skim off the excess water and scoop out the soft wet mushy clay and smear it out (a couple inches thick) onto a slate table to absorb some more moisture. - when it firms up to a soft manageable consistency, I cut it into squares it toss it into the pugmill. - I will use the pugmill to mix the clay (varying lengths of time from 20 minutes to an hour) and de-air it before pugging it out into nice logs. Some problems I have been noticing as my students work with it are "shortness", surface cracking while pinching and coiling... and an overall dissatisfaction in the quality of the clay. Unfortunately, I do not have the time or luxury to "properly age" the clay, allowing water to envelope each clay particle... there just isn't time. Am I doing something wrong that is making this happen?... is it the clay I'm starting with initially (when I get it from the manufacturer, it doesn't act this way) that doesn't like to be recycled? Is there a way to age it faster (besides the old "can of beer" trick I learned in grad school)? I'm at a loss... and my students... aren't liking it. I would appreciate any advice. Thank you Keith,
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