Monday, May 11, 2009

Diana Fayt Workshop

Diana Fayt and workshop participant

What a fun and whirlwind trip I had to San Francisco this past weekend to attend a Diana Fayt workshop at her studio. Light traffic and warm sunny weather made for a picture perfect weekend. As I drove over the Bay Bridge it brought back so many memories from the late 1970's when I lived in San Francisco. I bought my first 35 mm camera from Brooks Camera where I worked for a while, which led me to photography as an artistic medium. I worked with black and white photos for a time, and later did free lance photography and portraits, but my true penchant is for color and landscape photography.

Green ware Tiles by Diana Fayt

In the morning Diana presented us with an overview of print maker surface treatments she has developed which she applies to leather hard clay. The photo above shows some of the techniques Diana demonstrated on her own tiles. The surfaces have a lot of depth and the colors are rich. Diana recommended using a clay with some warm tones in the fired color which ultimately affects the glaze colors. I've experimented with various clays in a reduction atmosphere, but not with oxidation. This summer I'll be firing in oxidation using several different clay bodies. Looks like I have a lot of testing and experimenting ahead of me.

Tiles by Diane Fayt

After Diana's demonstration, we broke for a brown bag lunch and shared our experiences in working with clay. Diana prepared tiles in advance for us all to work on. In the afternoon we practiced the techniques she showed us on the already prepared leather hard tiles. We couldn't wait to start working on our tiles and concentrating on what we learned. Since I got back, my mind has been going a mile a minute on all the different ways I can use these new surface techniques on my own clay pieces. I just can't wait to try some of them. We were all having so much fun the workshop ran over more than an hour.

Display Shelves, Diane Fayt Studio

I was meeting my brother for dinner so I was the first to leave the workshop. When I left the rest of the participants were still working on their tiles. Unfortunately, I neglected to take a photo of the tiles I worked on, which I left for Diana to fire and mail to me. So you'll to wait to see the results of my handiwork, which I will post in a few weeks. A big thank you to Diana Fayt for a great workshop and for expanding my knowledge of clay surface treatments.

If it hadn't of been for a broken irrigation pipe, and lavender farming duties, I would have stayed in the bay area longer. Next time I need to do more planning so I CAN stay longer in San Francisco. As I was leaving I drove by the opera house, and I was reflecting about all the culture I am missing not living in or near a big city. I used to go the ballet, the museums, concerts, the park, the ocean and so many other places. San Francisco really is a great place to visit, with so much to see and do. Well one thing I do have now are many pleasant memories of the 'City by the Bay'.

Sourdough Bread and White Wine with lavender sprig
Ceramic Woven Platter by Linda Starr

I picked up my brother and we went to Fisherman's Wharf for a seafood dinner. While I was there I picked up a loaf of sourdough bread and I couldn't help but think of Ron Slagle and June Perry who recently shared their sourdough bread recipes. When I got home I served Gary some buttered slices of the Fisherman's Wharf sourdough bread I purchased (served on my very own woven platter), along with a glass of white wine.

But wait, what's in the glass of wine?
Hey, it's a sprig of lavender!

A sprig of lavender in white wine is actually quite good. Yes, lavender is edible and it doesn't taste like it's fragrance. When a sprig of lavender is placed in a glass of wine, you can smell the lavender when you raise the glass to drink a sip and it imparts a subtle yet pleasant flavor to the wine. Try it, you might like it. As the weather gets warmer, I'll be making some lavender lemonade and I'll let you know how I make it.

English Lavender

I'm really thankful to all the ceramic artists willing to share their knowledge, tips, and techniques on their blogs. Lots of the posts I read are like little mini workshops. A while ago Ron posted his paper template hand building methods on his blog (there are three parts to his post, the link is for the first in the series). Since I do a lot of hand building, I've used paper templates several times over the last few months. June has a whole repertoire of recipes for stains and glazes on her website. June's recipes were the springboard for the slip and stain experimenting I've done over the last four months.

The bouquet of English lavender above is from my garden. The lavender is blooming a week early this year. Up next are the results of the last cone 10 firing, so stay tuned.


  1. Love this post and the Lavender sooo jealous! Looks wonderful and I can just about smell it! And a glass of white wine PERFECT!

  2. Hi Mary, thanks, it's a lot of work bending over to harvest and prune the lavender. The English lavender is very sweet smelling, the intermediate variety they grow in France is still fragrant, but has a little bit more comphor tone.

  3. Can't wait to try adding a little lavender to a glass of white wine. But which white wine? Chard or a Pinot Grigio? Maybe both. :) Or Sauvignon Blanc? That makes 3! My head is spinning with possibilities.

    Looks like you had a marvelous time at the workshop!
    I'm a huge fan of Diana Fayt's work. Hopefully we can get her to come to Clayworks soon. :)

  4. Looking forward to seeing your tiles and seeing the surface treatments you learned about. I hope to do one of her monthly workshops. Maybe you will come back for another one.
    Lavender in cookies I have had, but I have never tried it in wine. I like the way it looks floating in the glass.

  5. Hi Becky, any type of wine will do, whichever you prefer. If you have a wine that isn't so good it makes it taste better, too.

    Hi Barbara, I was actually thinking of you when I was driving up there and thinking wouldn't it be a coincidence if you were taking the same workshop. Next time I come up there I'll let you know; this was kind of a last minute thing. It seems romantic to have the lavender floating in the glass.

  6. What a great workshop and I know you are full of new things to make.
    I will be ready for some wine after this weekend- count down to wedding and so much to do.

  7. Linda - I can't believe you are going to make us wait for photos of your tiles...okay, I guess I have no choice. ;)

    I adore Diana's work - can't wait to see what you end up doing with the techniques learned in the workshop.

    Now that the weather getting warmer, I find I end up reaching for a bottle of white instead of red - I will try lavender next time.

    PS - thanks for the clay links too - going to peruse a bit.

  8. Hi Meredith, take er easy, that's a lot of work for you and ask for some help too, from anyone and everyone; you sure give generously on your blog, and yes I have a ton of ideas after tonight when I pick up my last pieces, I will be off and running in yet another direction.

    Hi Cynthia, I can't believe I didn't take any photos of my own stuff. I think I was tired from getting up so early in the morning and driving all that way. I like white wine especially in warmer weather. I consider clay blogs a big part of my ceramics education and your's has been a great help and inspiration to me - I'm glad you're there.

  9. I agree with you Linda, clay Blogs have also been a large part of my recent ceramics education. How wonderful you were able to attend such an inspiring workshop -you were due for some FUN! BTW -my lovely box arrived yesterday and the PIECES you made and the fresh cut LAVENDER are beautiful. You made my day. I'll Blog about my "Friend across the miles" this week...

    :o) xox

  10. Hi Cindy, yes I have met some wonderful artists and people via blogs and you are definitely one of them. I am about to post something myself. Thank you so much.

  11. gosh, can't wait to see the tiles you made. seems like you learned so much! wow...

  12. Hi Amy, I can't wait till they come in the mail after Diana fires them. I have lots of idea for the techniques I learned.


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