[Clayart] The Amish bakery and tv dinners

William Schran wschran at twc.com
Sun Jul 25 14:14:37 UTC 2021

Your mention of graduate school in your post reminded me of my
graduate experience. I went to grad school at George Washington
University, Washington, DC, not known for it's art programs. Ceramics
was housed with the sculpture program in the basement of a nondescript
brick building. I lived out in the suburbs, a one bedroom apartment,
had an hour bus ride down to the city and a 6 block walk from bus stop
to university. I would catch the 6am bus going to the city and the
1030pm last bus out of the city, 5 days a week. When I began the
professor who was Turkish, spoke in broken English and had just begun
the year before. I was hired to be teaching assistant, lab technician
and just about anything else one could possibly think of to keep a
ceramics program running. I had a say in equipment purchases, but also
responsible for maintenance and repair of said equipment. I was
fortunate to have played a big role in building the program that
served me well when I did the same when I taught at a college.
About that teaching thing... Even after my first year of grad school I
still wasn't certain certain what I wanted to do as a career. I
imagined I would set up my own pottery studio but I didn't have any
role models or working potters I knew well enough to help me find my
way. But this is what pointed me in the direction of teaching: during
my final semester, as I was writing my thesis and preparing for my
thesis show, I was still doing all the assistant stuff. We had a blind
student with her seeing eye dog enroll in the beginning ceramics
class, a hand building course. The prof couldn't give her enough
needed attention so he turned her over to me. I spent the semester
figuring out ways to verbally explain processes, direct her hands,
squeeze her finger to explain amounts of pressure and when to use
water or slip. Much of the time when explaining something I found I
was closing my eyes so I could better verbally explain what steps were
My graduate experience, working in a small studio without the latest
equipment, taught me to work with what I had and to simply fall in
love with teaching. I taught full-time 38 years at a rather large
community college and conducted workshops while teaching and a few
years after retiring. I have my current studio in a two-car garage
with a wheel, work tables and a 4 cu. ft. programmable electric kiln.
I mix all my own glazes but buy clay from a local pottery supply. Look
up STARworks ceramics a local non-profit that sources clays locally,
blends/mixes and uses a filter press and pug mill for all their clays.


William Schranwschran at twc.com703-505-1617

	-----------------------------------------From: "mel jacobson" 
To: "clay art"
Sent: Sunday July 25 2021 8:49:26AM
Subject: [Clayart] The Amish bakery and tv dinners

 Thank you Barry. I stopped at the Amish bakery up the road
 a mile. Hand built building, real food. The darling girls
 help customers. Warm bread. Big sacks of real flour. the loaves
 are wrapped in saran wrap, not sliced. I get to do that. cash only.
 A warm cherry pie, full size, made with lard is $8. Loaf of bread
 is $2.

 Across the road a family has a huge table with fresh corn, beans,
 melons and the new tomatoes are just getting red. leave money. soon
 new honey. Just think how many tomato plants are growing in a twenty
 circle from my home? The raspberry bushes are bent to the ground with
 berries. We cannot near pick them all.

 I walked into a corn field, the stalks' are over my head, tassels
 The black and white cows are eating grass, getting ready for the big
 to come and take their milk to the cheese plant. And, of course we
have a
 cheese store in Connorsville. It too comes wrapped in saran wrap. Cut
from wheels.

 I thought of a post from Dannon years back. It was about "why
students work
 to get into grad school then get stoned and do not make pots. rush at
the end
 of a semester to get a grade. `why did they come here?`" It would be
like living
 on my road, the bounty is overwhelming, and go to the store and get a
frozen dinner.

 think of being in grad school with nothing to do except make your own
work that
 you love, and don't do it.

 Being a fine craft person, understanding your tools and materials
allows one to
 glory in the "work". If you do not have quality work to do each day,
you live
 in misery. The pride of work is essential to the human spirit.

 I try very hard to not let others take over my work. I love all the
steps. Then I get
 to add my "trademark".

 I think many people miss the "mark". You get to sign, or stamp what
you make. That mark
 will last for centuries. Make sure your mark is honest. Only the
person making the work
 can answer that question. It is up to the individual to know and
understand their mark.
 What do you leave for the future? Fired clay lasts forever.

 website: www.melpots.com

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