Tuesday, February 23, 2010

teaching experience

We're back. These workshops are six days long, the first three days 9 AM to 5 PM, the second three days 10 AM to 5 PM eating lunch in 5 out of 6 days. The studio that brought us in is Helios in Austin TX.

These are six intense days. We are 'on' all the time. The students make two pieces, a 4” tile and a 4” diameter cup. For the work to be out of the kiln before the end of the class, the first project has to be in the kiln by the end of the first day and the second by the end of the third day. The last three days are showing off while we wait for the castings to come out. We do a slide show and talk about our work and demo some reproduction molds with some hands on. And the last day we do cold work, finishing techniques.

We just started teaching workshops, doing one or two a year. I didn't think I would like it and so I dragged my heels for a long time. But you can only resist so long. I got so many requests for classes that I (and by I, I mean we) finally started about three years ago.

Turns out, I kinda like doing these workshops. I like helping people make a couple of things they are really happy about making. It's fun. All the classes we have done so far have been different, but they have all been fun. And tiring.

This last one, I was going to try to take pictures every day. I was real good the first two days. The third day, didn't take a single one. After that it varied. I think I missed another day as well and the days I got were sparse.

Anyway, here are some pictures.

Day 1, they make a clay model (the tile) and invest it, fill it with frit and it goes in the kiln at the end of the day.

making the model

making the coddle

the model invested

the model encased in the mold

filling the mold

Day 2, they make a wax model (the cup) and make the bottom part of the mold.

working on the model

the finished model

mixing the mold material (investment)

pouring the mold material

the model encased in the mold

Day 3, I didn't take a single picture. That's the day they make the second half of the mold (the core) and fill the mold with frit (crushed glass) and glass powders.

Day 4, they get their tiles out of the kiln and demold them, cleaning them up.

We also do a slide show on our work and how we got to point 'b' from point 'a'. Oh, and there is some math and firing schedules involved.

Day 5 I also, apparently, didn't take any pictures. We do reproduction molds and Q & A and the students can make another clay model and mold on their own if they want.

Day six we demold the cups, clean them up, do a critique and then finish work.

removing the core

demolding the cups

the tiles

the cups

I always enjoy seeing what is produced in the classes. People are so creative.


  1. Those pieces are so vibrant. It does look like a lot of work - but fun too.

  2. Oh, gosh, I would LOVE to take a class from you, Ellen. Amazing process and pieces. I especially like the cups.

  3. That is very, very cool! Love the photographic progress, too. :)

  4. That is amazing. What a process! And such beautiful finished products.

  5. Wow! Wonderful! And I'd lobve to see MY students all so motivated... Good work!

  6. Busy busy busy busy. I love the cups.

  7. What detailed, intricate work. Your students are so intent on each task at hand. And there's something very moving about seeing their finished art.

  8. OMG, Ellen! I'm exhausted!!

    That is a LOT of work. I remember doing molds and casts in sculpture class in college. It was a good thing I was young and energetic and interested, because those processes were long and laborious too.

    I did notice that none of the tile and cup crafters were college aged. I'd never have the focus to do that much work now.

    Thanks for sharing. The pieces are exquisite!

  9. These are awesome! It's so technical, wow. You must have the patience of a saint, Ellen.

    Someday I would love to take a class from you. Wow.

  10. Wow..now that is labor intensive. I can see why all would be tired after this workshop!!! Beautiful pieces!!

  11. Those end results are so cool! I would have been thrilled to participate. Except I get a bit claustrophobic if I wear a mask.

  12. I am with Willow - would LOVE to take a class from you and learn the best thing possible! The process is intriguing- the final surprise simply awesome! What a lot of work!

  13. This looks like such a satisfying venture!

  14. Hi Ellen

    these are beautiful and individual pieces reflecting the makers no doubt.

    Happy days

  15. This is absolutely wonderful to see! Thank you so much for taking the time to snap all these photos so I can have a better understanding of the process to make something so beautiful.

  16. I bet they were thrilled with the final results.

    Well done, teacher Ellen. :)


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