LOCAL CLAY WORKSHOP
Amy Joy Hosterman has been working in clay for 18 years, and has been testing and working with the clay at the VCAC for the past five. With the assistance of artist Jordan Olsen, she will lead participants through the entire process of using this local clay, from digging to firing.
The ground at the site of the VCAC is made up almost entirely of sedimentary clay that was deposited long ago by a slow-moving river and migrating glaciers. These deposits run at least 200 feet deep in some locations at the site. It is a beautifully smooth low-fire red clay which can be used with minimal processing.
This workshop is focused on exploration and experimentation, while going through the ceramic process from beginning to end, by hand and from scratch, using simple, straight-forward, accessible tools and materials. Due to the nature of this process and material, we will be making relatively small work, pushing the material to its limits, and employing experimental and primitive firing techniques.
Participants will learn about clay testing and clay body formulation. Amy Joy will lecture on the usage of this particular clay, testing its properties, making adjustments, and finding a balance between what the clay is naturally best suited for and what can be accomplished through simple modifications. She will also discuss with participants options for building your own simple kiln, and methods of firing and finishing without costly equipment.
Previous experience with clay is helpful but not required. Come with an open mind and a willingness to work hard, and you will leave with an increased understanding of ceramic materials and processes, as well as finished pieces made completely from the ground up!
During the workshop, participants will:
- Collect and process raw clay on site using simple methods and basic tools
- Formulate their own clay body for their intended purpose
- Create hand-built, slip cast, wheel-thrown, or organic burn-out work
- Fire, glaze, and finish work using accessible techniques such as pit, barrel, and raku-firing
- Learn how to build and fire their own kiln
Ceramics facilities include:
- Two treadle potter’s wheels
- Plaster clay-drying tables
- Large work table for hand-building
- Barrels and pits for primitive-style firings
- Portable propane-fueled kiln and kiln furniture for low-fire glaze and raku firing
- Various throwing and sculpting tools available (but bring your own favorites)
- All the clay you can dig/process.
- Low-fire glazes provided
- Buckets, screens, mixers, etc, for clay slip processing
- Raku-firing heat safety gear (heat aprons, face shields, welding gloves, tongs)
- During our Session One Building Workshop, we will be constructing a new drying shed for storing and processing all our clay, drying our work on racks with hot coals, and for firing propane kilns in inclement weather.
Participants are responsible for their own basic safety gear (safety glasses, dust masks, work gloves, work boots, etc.)