It’s true, I'm a bit of an introvert. I like toiling away in my studio, making small baubles, playing with new surfaces, and getting lost in thought all by myself. I never get bored and I rarely long for conversation to break up the quiet that fills the room. While I covet these luxurious, uninterrupted studio days, I also know how important it is to not isolate myself from the ceramic field at large. Connecting with a like-minded community allows me to remain cognizant of shifts in the field, progresses my practice through continuous peer review, encourages me to develop professional relationships, and reminds me that educating my local community about the importance of the handmade object can be a powerful agent of social change. Yes, that’s a lot for an introvert, but luckily our field is an innovative bunch with creative ways to flex one’s extrovertedness.
Learn more about creating a local clay collective at www.conepack.com.
Having just returned from the NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) conference in Minneapolis, I’m reminded that the clay community is a collection of many small groups: mingei potters, K–12 educators, gallery owners, public installation artists, food stylists, art therapists, naked raku enthusiasts, wood firers, and the list goes on. Each subset plays a small part in making not only themselves successful, but also contributing to the larger ceramic field. Each small group desires a more impactful reach beyond their individual studios. For example, a small group of Minnesota/North Dakota potters, wanting to break from their studio isolation, formed a group called Cone Pack. The collective has just the right amount of public connection for studio artists (and introverts)—occasional exhibitions and public lectures, partnerships with local businesses, and seasonal sales—who fear losing precious studio time or having the business side of it turn into an unwanted, part-time job. Cone Pack is small, nothing so large that a hierarchical structure needs to be implemented; they take advantage of the farmers’ market for sales, and when members move away, new ones are recruited. This band of potters not only invests in personal development through regular educational events, but also in widespread growth that comes from inclusion of and invitation to their wider community.
This issue shares techniques from wheel throwers along with carvers, mold makers, and glaze testers alike. Layne Peters, a stoneware potter, shares his unique process of developing texture by paddling through thick coils of clay added to the surface of a pot. Dallas Wooten teaches us how to incorporate patterns onto curved, thrown forms. Jess Palmer livens up the party with delicate Art Deco inspired martini cups. Nathan Willever takes the hard task of throwing tall and makes it more approachable by breaking it up into multiple forms. And, Chris Gray preps us for summer grilling season with tips on throwing and using heirloom clay to create an outdoor grill. All that and more, including template mold making, custom sets, and politically inspired relief carving. Finally, read more about Cone Pack by Catie Miller and Kelli Sinner to help you set up a collective in your area and bring new connections to your neighborhood and studio practice.