The Emperor Has No Clothes

I just finished a week long course at Haliburton School of the Arts. I spent a good amount of time dispelling the rules the students had been taught by the emperors. Emperors are teachers that aren't ready to be teachers. Teaching is the most important job in the world. I take it very seriously and am appalled that people decide to call themselves potters, have Etsy accounts, and teach classes after a few courses at the Guild. My class at Haliburton were gleeful at how much they learned from me in such a short time. What's the surprise???? I have been in the clay pits for over 60 years and I have made every mistake and broken every rule imaginable in clay. I actually applaud the Emperor. I think it's about having self confidence. Self confidence is a great quality. I think I'm pretty self confident. Would you want me do your heart surgery? I'm pretty confident I could do it if I watched a couple of good U-tube videos. When my kids were in school I always told them pick the teacher not the class. A good teacher will make all the difference in the world. On short notice one of my favourite potters in the world Bruce Dehnert asked me to teach a class at his new mud pit Sugar Maples Art School in the Catskills, NY. This will be an intensive week culminating in a salt firing. After all these years in the clay pits this course excites me and it will excite you too! I'll keep my clothes on. Don't want to horrify y'all.


gz said…
Keep on being subversive!!...and enjoy giving and sharing knowledge
Anonymous said…
There are all kinds of teachers out there, the struggle is finding the good ones, the exceptional ones, the ones who want to mentor and teach students to succeed. You know the ones you want to visit and stay in contact with long after the class is over.

Luckily the ceramics world has you.
Anonymous said…
I've been saving up my styrofoam meat trays so I can start offering ceramics classes.

Anonymous said…
I'd like to say a word or two about having a "magic teacher." For the most part, I think such figures are fantasy, a little like having a personal Obi-Wan Kenobi. On the other hand, humans do what they can for each other. Most of us can cite a teacher who made a difference. It's easy to believe that teacher was some kind of creative fairy godmother or Merlin figure, but the "magic" actually lies within you. You are the one who learns regular work hours. You are the one who taps into the creative flow or does not. At best, a fine teacher is the floor sample for their own tool kit. They not only know how to use a creative hoe, they do use it.

Have you had a "magic teacher"? What did they unlock that was already within you?

Julia Cameron - The Artist's Way
Anonymous said…
A Good Ceramics Teacher is Hard to Find But Here I am: Ceramics Blank Lined Notebook for Men and Women
Anonymous said…
Art & Fear: The ceramics class and quantity before quality

This story from the book Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an “A”.

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
Tony Clennell said…
Some great comments above. Art and Fear was one of the required texts in my class. The trouble with the quantity lesson is that if you are taught to do something poorly and keep repeating that you will have a pile of poorly made pots. That's were a good teacher comes in. U-tube doesn't do that. Thank you all above. The Artist's Way is also excellent. Good students also have good libraries and a collection of good pots for reference. Keep the flame alive! T
Cyndi said…
Hi T; You are a great teacher. I am glad that you are still out there teaching. I would love to join you in the Catskills. I am challenging myself to only handbuilding through next Spring but would love to participate in a salt firing. Thoughts?

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