Currently I am totally immersed in clay and find I can't learn enough. I have taken three workshops recently and am currently enrolled at the local college again. My goals are to perfect some of my handbuilding techniques, work on the wheel, and hopefully develop some unique glazes this semester.
The first workshop I attended this year was hosted by the Ventura County Potters Guild. Despite a terrible head cold, Malcolm Davis gave a lively and informative workshop about his carbon trap, shino-type glazes in Ojai earlier this month. The photo above from Malcolm's postcard shows two of his shino glazed tea cups. Malcolm has been a fulltime studio potter since the early 1980's and has worked extensively in developing his shino glazes. I learned that shino glazes are achieved in early, heavy reduction firings.
During Malcolm's slide presentation many were shocked to hear about the slithery creatures residing in Malcolm's workshop - black snakes eight feet long! Malcolm lives in West Virginia where lots of snakes are common. We residents of California aren't used to seeing that many snakes, particularly snakes that size. Some attendees at the workshop were mortified at the prospect of an eight foot long snake sliding along the wall of a studio. Having lived in Arkansas for four years, I know black snakes don't pose any harm and are beneficial in keeping rodents under control.
Besides shino glazes, Malcolm shared freely about his life as a potter and his experiences in the world of clay. In his slide show Malcolm showed some of his early work, one example being his first teapot. In the spirit of sharing I have posted my first teapot here, stoneware with celery glaze.
Malcolm said that early in his career, each time he took a workshop, he was given different and often conflicting advice for working in clay from other ceramists. Malcolm said he learned that each ceramic artist must find there own way in working with clay. In other words, there's more than one way to work with clay. I heartily agree and think I will adopt this as my ceramics motto. If you ever get a chance, I highly recommend attending a workshop given by Malcolm Davis.
Next post I hope to have some ceramic beads to show you which I made in my most recent workshop.