At the Start of a New Year

It was quite an interesting first week of school, with a few surprises; intriguing, daunting, and exciting. I must admit to not being particularly scared by the agenda before us — I had cheated and read all Pam’s syllabi a couple of weeks ago, with some hope of knowing what I was getting into (and whether it would be prudent to take every class I could get away with, like last semester). The inclusion of actually teaching real children is wonderful, both for experience, and as an incentive for making practicable lesson plans.

I’m also really excited for Ceramics class; especially the International Wood Fire Conference we’re hosting this year. It should be pretty awesome. As far as I can tell, the ceramics department, or at least the upper level courses, function primarily on good will. No one knows what is required to get a good grade, and very few people seem to care, or at least they don’t ask too much. For wood fire, for instance, we are to write our own contract, with no guidlines other than “you need to make a lot of work.” Then people come in to work at the lab at odd times, just because it needs to get done. It’s almost like real life — something to be appreciated in a college program. From my contract:

For the majority of my work this semester I would like to create a set of serving dishes, pots, plates, lamps, and other ceramic vessels that would be amusing and fun to serve with, eat out of, or look at. My inspiration is all the Greek get-togethers and pot lucks I’ve been hanging out at, where everyone is very hospitable and great cooks, but also always talking and laughing about that and other such traits. So I want to make a set that is functional and enjoyable to use, but not too earnest or even elegant. Towards that end, the shapes will be mostly rounded, organic, a little squat, even, and I want each to have a bit of a personality — like, an oil lamp may have some feathers ruffled against the cold and dark, and little claw feet. Sort of fairy-tale like.

I’m looking for surfaces to be fairly smooth (not a lot of crustiness), light to medium brown ash, primarily unglazed going in. I also very much liked the surfaces I got from the wood/soda firing last time (glossy, cream to grey), and plan on trying that again.


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