Community Revisited

Gabe and I started Foxy-Wolff when we were both working at the Art Center, Gabe as assistant Curator and myself as resident artist in the ceramic studio. That meant that the work of the first couple years of the project came out of a community studio. While much of our time working on those early projects was outside of the studio’s regular working hours, there are still considerations when working with others that just don’t come up in a private studio environment, such as putting things where others can find them and giving and receiving awkward hugs (Gabe’s favorite).

On the upside, having people around forces clearer communication and invigorates stagnant ideas with new perspectives, plus its more fun.

Our latest round of classes were an exact balance of all the goodness and just enough hugs to keep us on our toes. We hosted a small group that included friends from work, our kids and a few notable drop-ins’. The classes had a very loose structure and wound up running most of the day on the Saturday, with a fluid movement between wheel and hand building with lots of inspiring conversation throughout.

And the results? Pretty fantastic really. In addition to the batch of great ceramics we made during the 6 weeks, we are building a community that will continue our Saturday’s and the conversation.

 

Registration for Class with Foxy-Wolff

For those of you looking for an easy way to secure your spot in our upcoming classes we’ve created an Etsy listing that will allow you to register for either the 10:00 am or the 1:00 pm sessions.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/507082453/classes-with-foxy-wolff?ref=shop_home_active_1

Classes will be held at 26826 East US Highway 50, Pueblo CO, 81006. Feel free to call us if you have any questions, Kate Fox (719) 821-9105

You can also reserve a spot by using this form and paying by check or credit card on the first day of class.

Classes begin February 4th and run 6 weeks ending March 11th. There will be two Saturday sessions, the first from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm and the second from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Please specify which class you are interested in.

Classes with Foxy-Wolff

I love to teach, it’s really fundamental to my identity as an artist since I learned to do both things at pretty much the same time. With the pressure of grad school and moving my life and studio around significantly I’ve not taught a good community class in years. We kept putting it off until we were “less busy” and a class never came together.

The time has finally arrived! We’ve been cleaning and planning for a while now and have set a date.

Saturday February 4th with two, two-hour sessions, one at 10:00 am and one beginning at 1:00 pm. We’re limiting enrollment to 10 per session. The class costs 120.00 and includes all of your clay, firing and materials. We will meet for 6 weeks ending March 11th, with pots and sculptures picked up in a couple of weeks after that.

The class will center around clay primarily but will have a decidedly intermedia feel. Gabe and I are really looking to build a dynamic and collaborative structure to the classes, allowing each student to follow their freak while learning some fresh technique.

Any level of experience is perfect, you don’t need to know anything coming in to the class unless you want to work with the wheel. We have 3 and would prefer those spots go to people that already know how to center. teaching and learning to throw is a close connected process and I prefer to start people out with a few private lessons or a wheel only class.

This class is for adults and serious art students of any age.

Cleaning Up at Foxy-Wolff Studio

With school and The Magic Box complete we are moving back into projects and ideas that we had to leave behind because of the limits of time. First up is the heavy cleaning/rearranging of the studio for a series of classes coming up beginning in early February.

The studio is above all a functional space and changes a great deal to suit our current project, most recently, aside from a small space for us to fill some christmas pottery orders it has been a storage space for The Magic Box. Also we’ve been so focused on that project that some of the unused corners of the studio had filled with unconsidered objects.

My grandpa loved games and puzzles and there was one he had that I played with often. It was a small plastic number slide game.

Rearranging a small space is exactly like playing this game, it’s all about how you begin. For us this meant moving the boxes, pedestals and art from The Magic Box into storage until it shows again. So the storage room was the place to start for us. Gabe is an animal about this kind of work, and he had all my personal storage lined out in an afternoon and the pedestals and the rest put away in the next few days.

While he worked that out I had to make sense of the working area. That space has a tendency to get cluttered with the remnants of works in progress, including old clay bits in need of reclaim and tools misplaced on shelves. A clean studio is not always the highest value but its great to get a clean reset before the beginning of a new project. I think it helps to keep ideas fresh and forces us to deal with the dust fairly often.

This freed up the center space, leaving only the Kuan Yin of the Magic Box on a table in the center of the room. More heavy lifting cleared a space for The Great One and we hung her where she can watch over the large front room.

The glaze room was the next priority, that involved clearing the old front office space of everything and then gathering all the materials and tools used in surfacing the ceramic in the kiln.

Critical to inviting other people to the studio to make art was lighting all of the work space. Gabe to the rescue again. Heres a funny little video he made to celebrate getting up on a ladder (again).

Look for posts coming this week with details on the upcoming series of classes.

Freestyle Video at KACA

We were super fortunate to get to teach our Freestyle Video class this year at the Kansas Artist Craftsman Association conference this year. The 2016 KACA conference was held at Heston College in Newton Kansas. The small campus wreathed in autumn leaves was an ideal setting for the weekend.

The workshop is a one day project in which we planned, shot and edited  a video by student participants and ourselves. To accommodate this abbreviated production schedule Gabe and I came in to the weekend with both a concept and a song for the video being produced. The song, called  Steppin, builds on a simple beat that moves the action of the video, movement then became the focus of the project. Gabe wrote the song on his iPhone using the Garage Band app. The song was originally 250 bars but with only 142 used. He used 18 different digital instruments and his crafty thumbs to create the song.

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The first half of the session focused on storyboarding and capturing video. Walking in the context of the campus and conference was to unite with the beat of the music to create the content. With Gabe blasting the song from the back of the car, we walked in groups and singles with cell phones used as primary tools to offer what would be the foundation footage for the project. People then went through campus and the conference to add to this base. The clips, shot in 30 to 45 second blocks so they could be emailed into a single account would make sharing that data possible, so that footage could be shared.

We had a long lunch break which we used to prepare for editing. The day was in two blocks and participants were not required to do both to participate so we lost a few from the morning but gained more for the afternoon. the great challenge here was to help each person with the tools they either already had or would have access to in the future. With patience and tutorials from YouTube we were able help everyone to transfer the files and to use all the footage captured.

Drawing clips from the email account where they were stored, each artist edited their own version of the project using iMovie. Again there was a range of experience in each participant. For some it was their first time turning on a Mac and for others it was more a matter of small assistance with app details. Once all the videos were complete they were uploaded to a drop box so Gabe could use pieces from their videos for a final edit of all the material into our version of the project.

Our goal for the workshop was to help facilitate participants ability to make and  video using the tools at hand and to demystify the process of digital art. We are thrilled with some of the results. thanks to all the students who participated in the project.

Here then is our video and those of some of the participants.

Maddie Stutzman

Janet Lewis

Coil Pots

maria martinez

This coiled vessel was made by the late potter, Maria Martinez. Maria worked in the tradition of her families village, the San Ildefanso Pueblo.  The work of Maria is notable in many ways, the first and most obvious is the elegance and mastery of the work, but possibly more significant is the way the these pots draw from a long tradition of forms and making techniques, but push those conventions into contemporary art pieces that engage a modern audience.  Innovation and tradition are hallmarks of the contemporary coil pot.  This video documents Maria’s making process, from digging clay to firing pots and is well work the time to watch.

jomon

The history of coiling vessels from clay is nearly as old as fired clay in the archeological record.  Some of the oldest coil pots in the world come from the Jomon culture of Japan.  The earliest of these pots were made around 15,000 years ago.  The oldest are simple cooking pots, but as the culture continued the work became increasingly ornate.

This link is a nice discussion of the history and techniques of Jomon pottery with many good photo illustrations.

Types of pottery and how to make a Jomon pot

Teresa Brooks Coil case

Contemporary ceramists use coils to create a variety of forms that include both sculpture and vessels.  Many artists, such as Teresa Brooks, who made the vase pictured above , combine sculptural principals with more traditional pot forms to create dynamic art pieces that shake up the conventions that are often associated with coil made work.

http://teresabrookspottery.com/coil-pots.html

Pinch Pots

pinch pots

These pinch pots, by Kate Tremel, capture exactly what I love about pinched forms.  Delicately crafted, the rims become landscape and describes perfectly the action of the fingers in making.  Simple glazing accentuates the directness of form.  The only addition to these wonderful bowls, is subtraction in the form of pierced openings in the clay wall which allows the element of light to play in the object in a way that is difficult to achieve in clay.

Simple is truly the defining characteristic of pinch pots, while it is true that making a pinch pot is relatively easy, that makes it all the more challenging to make work that displays innovation and integrity.  One artist who does that perfectly is Priscilla Mouritzen, South African born and living in Denmark, Priscilla’s wood fired pinched forms are some of the finest pots I have ever seen.  The quiet simplicity of form coupled with her rhythmic decorations and the touch of the wood kiln, make each bowl feel like a precious individual.

http://design-mind.blogspot.com/2012/05/priscilla-mouritzen-ceramics.html

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Especially for my students, here’s a nice video done by Ceramic Arts Daily that gives a good beginning on the basic technique and suggests a direction to expand.

 

Pottery Class with Foxy-Wolff

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I began teaching in 1998, a few months after the completion of my bachelors degree.  It was an opportunity that was set up by my former professor and mentor Vicky Hansen.  That first gig was for the a local senior center here in Pueblo.  It was poorly paid and I had to buy supplies from my meager checks, but it was a fantastic place to begin accumulating a solid portfolio of projects for teaching, and the skills to communicate them effectively. I stayed with that job for two years, and it was during that time that I began to understand the fundamental connection between teaching and knowledge.  From the perspective of a student this connection is simple and obvious but for the teacher is more subtle.  It was through teaching hand building to elderly beginners that my personal identity as a sculptor was born.  Learning to observe and identify a students difficulty and then offer a clear route to success, taught me to see my own work more completely, and the excitement and raw creativity of new students has kept my energy and commitment pure.

A few years after the SRDA I was offered the position of resident artist at the local arts center.  I stayed in that position for eleven years.  My years of teaching at the art center continued the learning began at the senior center and refined other skills.  From class room management for large groups of kids to the subtle push and pull of helping an artist aim for higher goals, I truly became a teacher of ceramic art.  In fact I often feel that I am a better at teaching than anything else I do.

After so many years, I was ready for a break.  The endless rotation of students in an institution like an art center became exhausting.  It was possible for me to teach preschoolers, at risk high schoolers, learning disabled students and artists in the same day, and of the over one thousand students that I might teach in an average year the vast majority would only come once for a single project, meaning that studio rules and basic processes had to be repeated endlessly.  Don’t get me wrong, It was a well paid job that I loved, but the enormous energy requirements to deliver effective lessons under those conditions for multiple years was just something that I could no longer sustain.

So when I said goodbye to my students and studio at the art center in December, I figured it would be a good long time until I picked up that hat again.  Obviously I was wrong.  Almost immediately after leaving I started being approached by parents seeking lessons for their kids.  i would give out my number, promise that eventually I would resume teaching and forget the encounter.  Enough of these piled up, with follow up calls that I felt I had to set a schedule and start up again.

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The first thing we had to do to begin was to rethink the studio (again).  Teaching ceramics requires some room, which is at a premium in the old barn.  Of course there were areas that were not maximized for efficiency, so that is where we began.  We have four electric wheels that we set in a tight group and a long table very close by for the hand builders to work.  The proximity allows me to teach two lessons at once without missing that critical moment before a work fails.  This was set up in the area that we had set aside for my step dad to park his car.  Fortunatly he’s made other arrangements for the car.  Other things had to shift as well, because we wanted the place to be accommodating for students and parents that might not be familiar with the clutter and dust common to pottery studios.

I structure the classes in beginner and advanced sections, these groups rotate from table to wheels on the hour in a two hour lesson.  The class is full at 11 students, from age 4 to 15.  A student needs to 10 years old to start the wheel so younger students concentrate on hand building and the older tend to gravitate to the wheel.  For our first lesson the beginner hand builders made votive holders from pinch pots.  The lesson is the same for a wheel student until centering and the cylinder are understood.

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I’m not surprised to be teaching again, its what I do and I’ll always do it in one way or another, I am surprised that it has given the studio and my art life a feeling of life and completion that I was unaware that it lacked.  Apparently I am a part of the lives of my students, and they are undoubtedly a deep part of mine.  The new class structure and the flexibility of owning the school gives us options for classes that I’ve never considered before.  the four week formula will allow us to take on more complex single subjects and really explore them.  Possible ideas include mold making, clay making and pit firing, and large scale sculpture.  Honestly were a bit fired up.  One thing is sure, teaching has the potential to be as new and exciting as the rest of our art life, and through teaching we empower other artists to begin their own lifetime of growth and discovery.

Up next?  We’re hoping to add adult classes for a later Saturday session.  TBA