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Choosing Workshops

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Hello All,

I'm looking at many offerings and trying to plan my extra curricular education for the coming year. I know I myself have found a big difference in various presentation styles and substance and I was wondering if you had favorite workshop instructors that you personally have learned from and feel do a good job of the presentation, workshop, demo venue.

I know there can be a big difference between being a good potter and being a good teacher, also a diff between doing a good dem,a, and really teaching a group for several days.

 

I would appreciate hearing about workshops you have taken that you would recommend and attend again yourself.

I would recommend some, but is this a touchy topic? I don't mean to discuss or name the less that great experiences, only the good.

Moderators, is this OK?

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This is an interesting topic to discuss but it is important to realize that any workshop

experience is very personal ... by that I mean that one person can totally love it and

another in the same workshop will think it was a waste of time and money. Other

times, a behind the scenes mix up that the students dont know about can affect it in

ways beyond the teachers control. This is why just getting one individuals opinion is not

always very reliable ... It's just what they experienced and as the old saying goes ...

you can't please everyone.

 

So as with everything else in pottery, it all depends ... on the presenter and the venue.

 

I would recommend you narrow it down to what you want to learn, then look for the classes.

Go to the teachers websites to see their work and their teaching history.

If they have a good number of workshops taught and more to come then you can be fairly

certain they are bringing in paying students ... which should mean they are doing a good job.

Go to the schools website too to check out their professionalism.

 

An interesting alternative offered by Potters Council is our regional conferences where we

invite several quality teachers to present under a central theme. You get to learn from four

artists in one weekend and meet a lot of your fellow Members. They also have attended

many workshops and will be glad to advise you on your next class.

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I have worked at Arrowmont, Penland, Haystack, The Appalachian Center for crafts and have found that almost every works shop they present along with Anderson Ranch and a whole bunch of other workshop opportunities to be GREAT. Being specific on what technique or what you want to learn could help us inform you of some great people to take a short class from. Learning a specific technique from someone who is really a expert on it can be the best way to learn. workshops are great avenues for this! What do you want to learn? That is the question you need to ask your self and then ask the forum. Workshops are great and I would say take as many as you can afford!!!

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Stephen, I do take as many workshops as I can afford, at Arrowmont, Odyssey, Wildacres, and several private studios. 2 or 3 a year. Both for the education and for meeting like minded people and a get away from my daily home demands. Guess you coould call me a workshop junkie.smile.gif

 

I have had wonderful, generous, enthusiastic instructors with energy for the job and skills to get it done. I also spent a week with an instructor who stated on Monday that they 'didn't have any interest in teaching' blink.gif and disolved into a hangover by Wednesday and dissapeared from the studio altogether . Both weeks cost me nearly $1,000. Obviously, the former was worth a lot more than the latter. In these cases, both instructors had a national reputation, and are listed as presenters often in the ceramics magazines. I have no interest in naming anyone, just giving a 'for instance' to illustrate my point.

 

I was asking if others had good experiences they would share, thereby helping all of us have good workshop experiences.

 

Chris, how do I find out about Potter's Council's regional conferences?

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Guest JBaymore
I also spent a week with an instructor who stated on Monday that they 'didn't have any interest in teaching' blink.gif and disolved into a hangover by Wednesday and dissapeared from the studio altogether .

 

Wow! It is one thing to ocassionally have a "bad day" when presenting workshops.... everyone who does this sometimes just screws it up sometimes or doesn't "click" with the particular group ...... but that sounds pretty absurd.

 

I would have been all over the event organizers and gotten the fees back. Did they take care of you? I know that the TIME you allocated to it is the most valuable part of things.... but at least you should have recovered some of the out-of-pocket.

 

If people are not specific about such situations occuring, this kind of person continues to be asked to present workshops.

 

This man or woman might be a great visual artist.... but clearly not someone who should be charging for their time as a workshop leader / teacher. That they clearly already KNOW themselves that they are not good at this aspect ( ' didn't have any interest in teaching ' ) and yet they still knowingly put themselves into that kind of situation is a statement on their character.

 

Sorry you got ripped off.

 

If the venue was CLEAR about this being a chance to simply watch someone work as they do in their own studio.... with all the gaps. warts, and other stuff..... and that the person is not "running a workshop" ........ well, you can learn an awul lot simply by watching a good artist work. (That is a very un-American approach to learning but it can be a very typical teaching approach in Japan.) But this does not sound like it was presented that way.

 

best,

 

..............john

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This happened at one of the most respected arts and crafts schools in the country. Several studentsd were very specific and vehement in their evaluations at the end of the week ,at the request of the schools director, who told us that student evaluations were taken very seriously. Much to my saddness, this person is on the list for this years workshops at that school.

 

I have limited funds and time and take my study pleasures very seriously. I had e-mailed this instructor prior to enrolling to ask specific questions about the details of the workshop. She gave me specific answers that assured me that the workshop was what I was looking for. The second day it was apparent that the format was changed to be a totally different process, some in the class were happy with the change, the rest were S O L, with processes that did not relate to my needs and studio set up. Most of the satisfied students were quite young and turned into the instructors drinking and ???ing buddies. By Friday, the instructor was weaving and red eyed, reeking of booze and telling stories of the wild goings on last night, including something about the 'talents' of the studio assistant.mellow.gif

 

I was not offered any compensation, got no response from the lengthly and specific evaluation I was asked to do, and now have real doubts about how this school chooses their instructors. Make no mistake, All of you would know the name of the schoold and this instructor if I chose to reveal it, which I won't.

That is why I started this thread, hoping for input as to who runs a good workshop.

 

I will go first.

 

I attended a 3 day workshop by Bill Van Guilder, and certainly got all I could have hoped for in terms of useable practicle instruction, inspiration, and 2 years later I'm still accessing things from the many photos I took there. I would return and I would do a longer time with his instruction based on the weekend.

 

There are some others I feel the same way about. What about it, anybody else? Or am I the only workshop lover on the forum?

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I recently attended a workshop with Sandi Pierantozzi and Neil Patterson, and they were terrific. They packed a lot of instruction into two days, including plenty of hands-on time for all the students. They have worked out a great system where one of them demos while the other sets up the next demo, very well-planned and efficient with time. And they couldn't have been more genuine, down-to-earth people, as well as excellent instructors and demonstrators.

 

Their work demonstrates how to combine wheel-throwing and hand-building techniques when making functional pots, plus lots of different approaches to surface decoration. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in these subjects.

 

Mea

 

(and I can think of several workshops where I wished I got my tuition back too ... but I'd rather praise the ones who did a great job)

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Luckily the list of good instructors is a hundred times longer than the duds so your odds

of getting a poor one at a reputable school are low.

 

As for the Potters Council Conferences ....

 

If you check out the Ceramics Arts Daily link at the top of the page, then click to

The Potters Council website you will find links and adverts for our 2011 Conferences ...

They are also promoted in the Potters Pages, Pottery Making Illustrated and Ceramics

Monthly.

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That sounds like a nightmare. I have given a lot of workshops over the years. As an instructor going into a new site always causes a little apprehension. But the situation you describe is not excusable. Sorry to hear about that. I like giving workshops at reputable institutions or with the Potters Council. Preparation usually begins a year or more in advance.

One sorry experience I had as an instructor was when the organizer took off, the assistant was working two jobs and the equipment had been dismantled for the previous workshop. We made the best of it but it was off to a slow start.

Marcia

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I have taken two weekend worshops from Bill Van Guilder and thoroughly enjoyed them. Bill is a very effective teacher and very open to sharing his ideas. While the material overlapped, I still learned a lot and would not hesitate to take another workshop with him. I've also taken a weekend workshop with Michael Sherrill on use of the extruder. Michael was very good at communicating and explaining while demonstrating various techniques. I also appreciated his discussion on being a professional pottery and artist. Another worthwhile workshop I've taken was with Sequoia Miller on altered vessels/forms. He was very good at demonstrating and explaining. H is slide show was particularly interesting as he showed the evolution of his forms from beginning to current. After the slide show, you could look at this sample pots and vessels and see the concepts and perspectives from the slides.

 

I also attended an enjoyable workshop with Hank Murrow. Hank demonstrates and explains very well. As enjoyable as the workshop was, Hank spent a few weeks in the DC area and continued to work and do a firing at the studio. Whenever he was there(which was often), it was an informal, continuing workshop. Hank was extremely generous with his time and knowledge. He was genuinely interested in the people he met.

 

I've taken two glaze workshops: one a weekend workshop with John Britt and a one-day workshop with John Hesselberth. Both used different approaches to glaze theory and understanding, but both were very good and I learned a lot. John Britt is very enthusiastic and energetic; he liked interacting with the attendees. John Hesselberth managed to make the unity theory understandable with his collection of bottle caps -- which is something since I am not chemistry inclined.

 

 

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I also spent a week with an instructor who stated on Monday that they 'didn't have any interest in teaching' blink.gif and disolved into a hangover by Wednesday and dissapeared from the studio altogether .

 

Wow! It is one thing to ocassionally have a "bad day" when presenting workshops.... everyone who does this sometimes just screws it up sometimes or doesn't "click" with the particular group ...... but that sounds pretty absurd.

 

I would have been all over the event organizers and gotten the fees back. Did they take care of you? I know that the TIME you allocated to it is the most valuable part of things.... but at least you should have recovered some of the out-of-pocket.

 

If people are not specific about such situations occuring, this kind of person continues to be asked to present workshops.

 

This man or woman might be a great visual artist.... but clearly not someone who should be charging for their time as a workshop leader / teacher. That they clearly already KNOW themselves that they are not good at this aspect ( ' didn't have any interest in teaching ' ) and yet they still knowingly put themselves into that kind of situation is a statement on their character.

 

Sorry you got ripped off.

 

If the venue was CLEAR about this being a chance to simply watch someone work as they do in their own studio.... with all the gaps. warts, and other stuff..... and that the person is not "running a workshop" ........ well, you can learn an awul lot simply by watching a good artist work. (That is a very un-American approach to learning but it can be a very typical teaching approach in Japan.) But this does not sound like it was presented that way.

 

best,

 

..............john

 

 

 

I would think the school never invited them back again! I hope. I guess there quite often is a party but the instructors usually multi task through that. I am surprised the school offered up no help. Again people have a bad day sometimes but the whole workshop? What a drag!

 

 

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I also spent a week with an instructor who stated on Monday that they 'didn't have any interest in teaching' blink.gif and disolved into a hangover by Wednesday and dissapeared from the studio altogether .

 

Wow! It is one thing to ocassionally have a "bad day" when presenting workshops.... everyone who does this sometimes just screws it up sometimes or doesn't "click" with the particular group ...... but that sounds pretty absurd.

 

I would have been all over the event organizers and gotten the fees back. Did they take care of you? I know that the TIME you allocated to it is the most valuable part of things.... but at least you should have recovered some of the out-of-pocket.

 

If people are not specific about such situations occuring, this kind of person continues to be asked to present workshops.

 

This man or woman might be a great visual artist.... but clearly not someone who should be charging for their time as a workshop leader / teacher. That they clearly already KNOW themselves that they are not good at this aspect ( ' didn't have any interest in teaching ' ) and yet they still knowingly put themselves into that kind of situation is a statement on their character.

 

Sorry you got ripped off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the venue was CLEAR about this being a chance to simply watch someone work as they do in their own studio.... with all the gaps. warts, and other stuff..... and that the person is not "running a workshop" ........ well, you can learn an awul lot simply by watching a good artist work. (That is a very un-American approach to learning but it can be a very typical teaching approach in Japan.) But this does not sound like it was presented that way.

 

best,

 

..............john

 

 

 

I would think the school never invited them back again! I hope. I guess there quite often is a party but the instructors usually multi task through that. I am surprised the school offered up no help. Again people have a bad day sometimes but the whole workshop? What a drag!

 

 

 

 

Oh and PS. I worked as an assistant at one of the top schools and the person I was assisting did the same thing! That was 25 years ago or so??? Hum wonder if that was it. The teacher took off on a mountain bike after a few hard nights of drinking. The workshop was still full of information and great demos, but they did turn off some students. The teacher still gave quite a bit, but when you are paying $$$ they should be giving their all!

 

 

 

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My biggest disapointment is that this person is on all the schols lists this year also. angry.gif I guess it just takes time for the word to get around. The school where this happened is even having them back. I never heard a word from them in response to my negative evaluation, and neither did the several others that I communicate with that shared my experience and disappoiontment.

 

However, I am going to a workshop soon. if it's good I'll post a report.

Hope springs eternal.smile.gif

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Hi, All,

I wanted to give an up date and info on a GREAT workshop I attended last month. I have been bored with some of my glazes and always liked Steven Hill's work so was happy to find him within driving distance of me. He did a 3 day at Jeffcoat pottery near Calabash, NC.

We brought bisqued procelain pieces and got to use his glazes and multi sprayer set up, watch him make several beautiful pieces, them we put our sprayed bisqued pieces and his greenware into the same kiln, fired it with his ^6 electric long firing for green ware and some truely fabulous pieces came out. It was good to watch his single firing process from wet clay to fire piece. Then the finished piece was auction, and one lady got one of his large pitchers at a super price.

The hosts are experienced workshop givers and good potters in their own right, very gracious. Food was outstanding, wonderful hospitality. Many potters from the NC area came by on Sat night to visit and share stories.

Steven Hill was a gracious, friendly, low keyed all round good teacher. I am now struggling to reproduce those glaze effects in my kiln. I need to work on how to change my firing schedule to match his better, but I am inspired. And had a great time. I would absolutely got to a clinic with Steven again, and it is my 2nd trip to Jeffcoat's place and will be going back. Great hosts.

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