The clay place


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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Who did I learn from anyway?

I don't have a picture of Charles, the man who first taught me how to throw clay, and I glazed most of his works for about a year as we were part of a crafts co-op in Tallahassee.  We certainly had fun, and I lived on my savings, because I certainly didn't live on my production!

Then I returned to college and studied at the University of Florida and got a BFA to prove I could throw clay.  I really enjoyed myself, though there were some personal challenges that happened about that time in my life.

Nan Smith, U of FL

Maria Martinez, New Mexico


Adelaid Alsop Robineau with Scarab Vase

Nan Smith 2011 with students U of FL

MC (Mary Caroline) Richards, Black Mountain College
If I hadn't read "Centering, In Pottery, Poetry and the Person" by MC RIchards, I wouldn't have been so drawn to expressing myself in clay since the 70's.


Goddess (replica) Ankara Museum, Turkey

The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago, Susan B. Anthony plate


Judy Chicago

Chestnut, by Fidelma Massey



Garden by Nan Smith, 2010


So there were lots of women (as well as men) who worked in clay that I  learned from...or at least looked up to as mentors.  Who taught you?




8 comments:

  1. My second instructor was Jane, and she and I worked together very well, every week she would say "I like what you're doing here and here, go to the library and look up ____. MAKE MORE!" Last fall I bumped into the third person who taught me, Dean, at a craft fair, a FIRST. I have been at this nearly 30 years, he nearly 40 years, and this was the first time we were together at a fair, anyway, we are old friends by now. He told me that of the hundreds of apprentices and students he has ever had, only one became a potter--me :)

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  2. try this--nearly identical to my recipe, except I use soy milk not milk and margerine not butter :) http://www.writingatthekitchentable.com/2007/12/st-lucia-day.html
    My first instructor was Stanley. he was great to begin with, very quirky and hard to understand but he was very encouraging to me. But in my second year I needed more clear instruction, and Jane was entirely concrete and spoke my language. I felt at the time, as a teenager, that I dissappointed Stanley in a lot of ways, but I suspect he would be pleased to know I not only stayed with clay but do it every day, and make things he would appreciate.

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    1. Thanks Gary, just wondered why you commented on 2nd and 3rd teachers. Yes, you are the one who continued, and have a lot to be proud of...if your other teachers only knew!

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  3. What a great post Barbara, the basics a learned from a community college teacher, then a private studio, then workshops, and now blogs, magazines and reading. I'm inspired by Ruth Duckworth and many other contemporary ceramicists and by other potters.

    By the way the blue in my blog name come from our dog blue who since passed away, do a search on the sidebar and you can read about her.

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    1. Oh yes, me and you and a dog named Blue. I sing it in her honor!

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  4. When I was getting my BFA at Westminster College in SLC in the early 90's, I had the opportunity to do a pottery internship on the Navajo Reservation outside of Blanding, UT. I lived with a Navajo family for about 4 months. The father and his son were accomplished potters and I learned more from them about the spirituality of clay and how to really express and center myself than I did in any of my art school courses. After I graduated, I set up my own studio and taught classes at my studio and at another small crafts school in Salt Lake City. I learned a lot through teaching both young and old students, and especially grew from the classes of special needs kids that I taught every summer. For them, clay was a pure form of expression and spontaneous! I still love to read Bernard Leach, and have collected all of his books.

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  5. Every artist and craftsperson owes much to those who've gone before. I love the pictures of your mentors -- and their work.

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  6. The writing teacher who issued the challenge that led to my becoming a published author is Bill Brooks. And my painting teacher Fleta Monaghan taught me to SEE in a way that enhanced my writing.

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