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Stephen Robison

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Everything posted by Stephen Robison

  1. ps recycled vehicle oil is a very bad idea as it contains quite a bit of bad stuff. But screened fryer oil works great!
  2. I would build a simple catenary arch form and build it out of raw brick. Then look at a drip oil system and use some diesels and cooking oil. That sounds like the cheeps source of fuel you have. Maybe some propane burners to get it rolling. Check out drip systems and a very slow fire schedule so you don't blow up your raw brick. Build a small one first and see how it goes. Do a web search on a catenary arch and check out how to build the form. Here is a fantastic link for oil drip. http://ceramicartsdaily.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/cmapr03vegoilbritt.pdf Good luck and have fun!
  3. So many directions you can go with tile. High output and non custom are hard to compete with on the price break. But custom tile work takes on many different directions. Are you willing to take custom orders for abstract and representational work on the tile? Are your painting and drawing skills developed enough for that kind of work? I guess a few questions are needed to asked of yourself. Architectural tile is different than floor, counter top and backsplash tile. Sculpted tile or molded tiles compared to floor tile or other "flat" tile take on different characteristics in relationship to clay body, firing temps, and drying techniques. In floor tile or "flat" tile drying evenly and using a good tile body are the most important issues one needs to tackle. Paula Winokur, http://www.paulawinokur.com and Peter King http://peterkingceramics.com/architectural_ceramics/ are some of the top in architectural tile. Paul Lewing paints mountain scenes on tile... Chris Gustin makes some of the most beautiful tile for bathrooms and floors that I have ever showered over!! http://www.gustinceramics.com/tile/ The history of tiles in our country and abroad is rich. Search out images for Pewabic Tile, Henry Mercer, Moravian Tile works, Gladys McBean http://www.gladdingmcbean.com/aboutus.html to start with. So much to think about in terms of education. I believe that for good architectural tile one of the best routes is to get a BFA at a strong ceramics program and understand sculpture and ceramics. But there are many other routes to education. Apprenticeships, workshops and learning solely through trail and error with good books and internet research are all other possible avenues for your education into the world of tiles. But again it is a very diverse world and so ask some of those questions of yourself. Most importantly, what kind of tile do you want to make.
  4. 8000 wow. Really??? So yes I worked at Penland, Haystack, Arrowmont and the Appalachian Center for Crafts. All fantastic! And as far as the costs look into those schools. There are many many more options then there were when I was younger. Anderson Ranch is also a great place! I think it gets down to what technique you are looking at or the person who you may desire to study under. These are concentrated blocks of time and the money is worth it to me if you can swing it. There are also many times opportunities to be a work study student. 8 grand is also around what you may pay as a special student at a university and maybe that could also be another avenue. As far as reviews... They are all great and it really depends on what you want to learn.
  5. Your work is not that bad that you would do a disservice. That is ridiculous to say, if students under your instruction gets excited and into clay and then pass you up great! You may want to direct them to other places of study or if they can't move from the area or afford workshops and other opportunities for learning then at least they have a place to work. The Archie Bray foundations motto is "A Good Place to Work".. If a community place can offer any opportunity to work then it is still an opportunity and a service and again certainly not a disservice. I think its great you are volunteering your time and I bet people around you are happy you are a giving person. If they start paying you for teaching and you feel bad about it, tell them to advertise the position and see if someone else wants to step up to bat. Its a team effort building a community program. The cool thing about students passing you up is you are also growing and learning and can grow and learn with them! Its a great path to travel together and not get petty. Keep pushing yourself to learn and grow both on and off the wheel! Have fun!!
  6. Post Bac degrees are decent, but an MA might also be a route. MFA requires as you said more investment in time and money and are also quite competitive. Residencies are good route too, but again are usually fairly competitive. As far as apprenticeships they vary quite extensively, but can also be a great experience. Taking workshops in the summer is also a fantastic way to grow, as they are often times directed at specific techniques in building, throwing and/or firing. I would not discount Community Colleges, many have fantastic people teaching at them. In WA state where I teach there are two in particular that are fantastic, one is Tacoma Community College and the Other I believe is at Shoreline CC. Doing some research into the work that they do can be fairly telling to their expertise in a certain direction you may be interested in going. For instance the person who is at Tacoma CC is amazing at wood firing and the instructor at Shoreline CC does some amazing work with black slip on white porcelain. Look at El Diablo Valley College on the edge of San Franciso, they have two full time ceramics instructors. Both GREAT, the two there are really great. Mendocino is good too! The idea of a certificate is not quite as relevant as just growing and learning. An AA degree is not needed, but building a good portfolio is and an AA degree or certificate may be a good way to continue your growth. There is no one path to growth. The main thing growth takes is your individual drive, work ethic and a day to day investigation into research that will drive growth in your ideas and your technical ability. It is not always a book on ceramics, it may be a book on genetic virology and the imagery under the microscope, (thats one of my influences). DVD's and videos from Ceramics Daily, Youtube videos and many other great resources are available to you that were not available to previous generations such as mine. But libraries also are still an amazing source for research, not everything is online or digital! It is a blast, so have fun!
  7. Tried to find Rick Price on google?? Maybe that wasn't his name?? I also know Rick Price was the bassist for ELO.
  8. I was involved in a very similar project in the 80's It was great. The percussion and horns were made by Rick Price from Australia. From my memory it was pretty cool! Belmont huh? There use to be an amazing artist who taught ceramics there. Jason Briggs. Actually I taught there, and was there when we designed the new art building. I never got to use the studio as I received a better job offer and moved. But Belmont would be a great place for this. Hell, any school with a good music department would be. In the 80's it was University of Wisconsin Whitewater and the music students played Ricks instruments and they were pretty good. I think the reed instruments and the horns used some standard month pieces. Some of the drums had thin steel heads. I have made several instruments including a violin, which needed to have an electric pick up on it to really sound good. It never went out of tune! When its all done it would be cool to see a video of the performance! Does this sound (no pun intended) like a fun/challenging course? YES What would you add to the course to make it more interesting? Intermediate or advanced levels in ceramics, (no beginners) If so it will be a head ache and the instruments will look and sound like crap! What challenges would you anticipate,particularly the ceramics process? Even with intermediate and advance ceramics students it will be a challenge .. Is there already a course syllabus that someone is using at another institution? Not that I know of. Good luck
  9. I take an artist statement seriously and hope that it can explain some of the individuals work. I try and lead my students out of statements that are bloated and irrelevant to their work. I also try to get my students to make work that does expand on our history of the media. Here is a link to what I give them as a guide to get started. http://formalconcernsandcontent.blogspot.com/2009/01/basics-on-writing-artists-statement.html I also find the critique of the monkey farter to be much funnier than what was posted above.
  10. PS there are plenty of political blogs out there so when you feel the need for discourse in that arena please seek them out. Thanks John for getting the post edited to be more relative to our agenda at Ceramic Arts Daily. Yes politics most certainly does fit into the education topic, but our mission here is to expand on knowledge directly related to Ceramics. Lets talk about the positive issues around our own learning and if we are teachers what our students accomplish and how we get our points across. What is the best way to get a student to focus and find their own voice?? Are we just conglomerations of appropriated imagery and the knowledge that we have been exposed or exposed ourselves to? Is there a reinvention of the wheel or are we using it to move down the road? Are the sights that we see in our journey in clay that much different than the previous generations that traveled a similar path. How did the previous generations influence how we see our path? What scenery did they shed light on? Is it a spout, a handle, a lid, a belly, a shoulder, an expression on a face, a texture or a firing technique or.... If its politics someone wants to talk about, put in your work like Richard Notkin's amazing work or Picasso's Guernica. Yes education in our country is looked at very differently by our two parties. But again we are specifically talking here about education in the fantastic world of CERAMICS. And what an incredible and diverse world it is! Go get your hands in the clay! Thats what I am going to do!
  11. This is for education in ceramics. Of course everything is connected but this almost doesn't seem like the appropriate place for this discussion. This is almost like a bunch of old people shouting at clouds. "Oh the problem with kids today" ... "I used to walk ten miles to school and back"... "oh yeah I had to lick the lake clean".. Monty Python .. So yes students have become slightly less engaged, but I find my students to generally want to learn and be challenged. we are talking about CLAY! It is so awesome! Along with that challenge I find it important not to dictate outcomes fully. To me the challenge in introductory classes is to pass on some technical skills and introduce them to formal and conceptual issues in art. Are they going to make great work, no but if they leave me understanding what it takes to make great work then I have succeeded. Of course there is maybe around 10% who leave without a clue. In intermediate and advanced coursework it is more about something Kirk Mangus taught me, and that is to "give them enough rope to pull them out of the they are stuck in or to hang themselves". Of course structure is very important also. If you let your students even look at their dam "smart" phones during class then you are doing something wrong. I have colleagues who complain about students all the time and of course there is the seriously humorous one or two every quarter that I also complain or laugh about. But in 20 years of teaching I have not seen a huge change. And I remember what kind of student I was! They are a raw product and you introduce exciting material to them and it molds them as much as you do. Getting most students excited about clay is easy for me and as they get excited the work ethic builds and builds.
  12. I would not be sneaky about it. I would educate the student on why things don't get fired or made in the first place. In the past I was sneaky. When I taught at VCU I did have a gal who made "bud vases". Holes place just right for the bowl slide and nicely placed car orator and they were made extremely well. It sanded me to toss them in the reclaim and watch them float and dissolve into oblivion. But I should have just pulled her aside and reiterated my lists of what can't be made. I have a page long handout explaining to students some of the rules around objects that are not appropriate for university level investigation. However now I am questioning the bong as an object. Hookahs are quite beautiful objects and do have some nice formal and technical complexities. I also live and teach in a state where these archaic rules against pot have been lifted. I have had beer stein assignments so now why not give an option of making smoking devises. Look at the beautiful history of the pipe and hookah. Something to chew on. What do you all think? Teapots are quite often made by potters who don't drink tea so why not other utilitarian objects such as bongs? I still draw the line at cheesy beer mugs that say bet you can't on them and coffee cups that say I love you mom or pot puri burners and candle holders that have cute little hallmark hearts pieced or painted on them. But beautifully formal and or conceptual ideas worked into hookahs, hum in CO or WA why not. Even though the law is on my side am I in jeopardy of losing my job over it because an administrator or parent brings a big stink on me? So anyhow not sure but I am pretty positive the best way to educate your student is to talk with them and not be sneaky. They don't learn and the chances of them being pissed at you are a little less if it is fully explained before they get a chance to waste their precious time on objects you don't find appropriate. Of course if your teaching HS then there are even more rules needing to be set. If you are teaching adults it is a little different.
  13. I use many resources for my students but they do respond very well to Kristen Kieffer's Surface Decoration DVD!
  14. I was once told by a lawyer that having them sign a form is really not going cover you. Somehow they don't hold up in court, maybe she was wrong but I trust she may not be. I think an umbrella policy might be best. We are only open to the public 2 times a year. But if you are teaching there is also liability as far as how you teach them. If you don't cover all the safety with the materials and tools you could be liable as not teaching them proper safe procedures. For instance a copy of MSDS sheets may need to be employed and I know there are some funny things said here but I had a student get scalped by using a blunger and she had not tied her hair back properly. The size of the chunk of hair that came out left an inch plus area where I guess hair will not grow now. That was years ago at a university, so even though she was properly trained and had signed a sheet telling her of all the possibilities around power tools where it explicitly talked of tiring hair back and no jewelry along with eye protection and basics around respirators for clay and glaze chemicals, her parents still were going to sue the university. Now, if you are just teaching some basic throwing and not letting them around certain tools and you don't have dust hazards and ventilation issues in your studio are all taken care of, them???? I would seriously think about finding a lawyer who likes pots or does pro bono. CREF may also offer some good ideas and maybe cheaper prices??? Good Luck and Happy New Year!
  15. We have taught our kids from the time they could squeeze, and we have used Thomas Stuarts quite a bit. We own two of them. But we also have used brents and shimpo wheels. We still own a nice shimpo. We also had a soldner wheel that our oldest was lucky to use. I sold that to one of my great students when we moved... We do also have a kick wheel, they are not to good on it, and it scares me a little. So what I am getting at here is I have not found it to make any bit of difference. They even try and throw on heavy banding wheels and although I can throw a decent cylinder on a banding wheel, they can only make bowls. They just need something that spins. They will have a blast if you are patient...
  16. When we make something we are creating and therefore we are creative. Is it originality or the individuals take on something that we are talking about? It doesn't make a difference if we are talking about a cup, or a figure or an abstract form, these are only some of the starting points when we set off to make something. We are makers in our discipline. We are are all influenced by what we see and we are all conglomerations of what we are exposed to and what we expose ourselves to. As we appropriate something we have seen and use it as a spring board for what we create we are being creative. Where we take it is relative to whether we are just being redundant of what we are starting with, however we are still being creative even if it be redundant or the objects be reiterations. Again whether you start with the figure or a teapot, you are starting with something that you have some visual and some technical knowledge of, how well does the artists know anatomy and is that important to what they want to express with said figurative piece, and how well does the crafts person know ergonomics and the basic physical applications of how a spout functions and where it should be placed to function or is the teapot more of a vessel for formal dialog or expressing something and not really about the utility of the vessel at all. For instance I have a Brad Schwieger teapot that is certainly not about pouring tea and I have a few Clary illian teapots that certainly are about pouring. The figure is a very old form humans have used to express something and or represent something, the teapot is a fairly new vessel in the history of utilitarian pottery, but it serves a specific purpose of utility and to reinvent the wheel in terms of the objects function is sort of silly. But to use either the figure, a utilitarian vessel, abstract form or representational objects as our modes of expression we should be thinking about what we want to express. I don't believe in talent or creativity as something someone has or doesn't have. These are things that are obtained through practice and research and a constant work ethic. And again we are a conglomeration of visual and technical information and as we appropriate bits and pieces of our knowledge and put them together to make an object we are being creative. Adding more bits to our library of visual and technical knowledge is a great goal and as lifelong learners we can make more and more objects to add to this beautiful and ever growing world.
  17. I sugest transfer to a University that has a good program if you are serious about this. It isn't the only route but is one of the best.
  18. Fantastic! I love Ira Glass's comments on creativity. I will try to find the link.
  19. Funny stuff... What the heck??? My favorite color is 68.
  20. I am not quite sure what moral education is. But the basics of student involvement is that some are good and some are not. If you have one, or two, or if your really lucky three great students in each class then wow! SWEET! But the fact is there is and has always been some bad and some mediocre students. I have seen the bad ones sometimes become good students and I have seen ups and downs with all levels of student interest. Laying down the law and rules and making them clear along with following through with them is important. If students are late, they get marked as late. If students are absent, they get marked as absent. After a decided amount they fail the class, that is listed and clear on the syllabus. If they are rude they are asked first to respect others and if the behavior keeps up they are asked to leave, (I never had to do that). If they use their cell phones for texting they are marked as absent. If they talk on their phones, same thing. So, that is in a university setting. In HS there is a limited way of dealing with some issues but many can be dealt with in a similar manner. However I have found that because I am a total geek about clay and I am so excited about all there is to art that generally most of my students are really excited to learn. The excitement and energy rubs off. And the more students I have excited the more the other students join in. Do I still have a student or maybe two in a class who is to put it bluntly are the dullest crayons in the box, of course I do. But not every student needs to be awake to make teaching worth it. The students who are geeking out on the clay are really the students we are there for. You only hope the others are getting some appreciation for the material and the discipline that we love so much.
  21. I teach on M and W and teach one course from 9-11:30 and then another from 1:00-3:30. I have a sort of friend who gives me crap for how "little" I work.. I actually hate her passive aggressive way of comparing me to how hard her husband works. So my official schedule is that. But of course there are committee meetings, faculty meetings, faculty senate meetings, search committees, meetings with advisees, mentoring student clubs and yes teaching is going on all the time outside of official class time, helping with firings, collection of wood for wood kiln, splitting wood, stacking wood, taking students to gallery openings, it depends on what people consider teaching. I also have graduate students which adds to the load more than one would think. So add it up along with what I need to do for my work as a professional in the media, I guess you could say I am almost always working. Plus I do get to have other fun other than making work with clay. Like kayaking, playing music, playing with my kids.... Teaching in a HS setting is of course even more demanding. So I guess there really is no standard day for me. But I love every minute of it... OOOPs no I don't.. don't like meetings...
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