Weaving techniques explored

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— Beth Banning of the Steamboat Springs Arts Council couldn't predict her ninth-grade art teacher would end up being her mother-in-law years later.

But because of Donna Banning's long career teaching art for high school, college and adult levels, she couldn't refuse when Beth asked her to judge the Fine Craft 2001.

"She's my mentor. I've known her since I was 14 and she's still my mentor," Beth said. "She teaches in Orange County, still at the same high school I went to."

Every summer, Banning travels from Orange, Calif., to Steamboat to visit her son and daughter-in-law. When Beth asked her to be a judge, Banning said she had nothing to lose.

"Because of my medium, doing a workshop is a natural extension for me," said Banning, adding she's presenting a lecture Thursday to the Arts Council.

Each year the Arts Council hosts a different judge who then gives a presentation, lecture or workshop.

After judging the Fine Craft 2001, Banning will present a woven clay workshop for all ages and levels.

On her breaks at an art conference in Sacramento, Calif., Donna Banning phoned Steamboat Springs for an interview on her woven clay workshop.

Banning said she's been working and playing with clay since her college days and turned her therapeutic hobby into a career for the past 32 years.

Banning will use clay coils to weave basket forms. Traditional and contemporary artists have used coiling and weaving in a variety of ways. This workshop will present basic clay weaving techniques and ideas for glazing, decorating the surfaces and firing.

This will be Banning's first time judging the Fine Craft 2001 although she displayed two pieces in last year's exhibit.

Banning said most of her handcrafted pieces are pottery built into a form of nature using earth materials, but many also are sculptures.

"I incorporate wood, bones and seashells," Banning said. "They are utilitarian, but also art pieces in their own right."

Banning said she teaches and enjoys working with raku, the ancient form of firing ware.

Raku is a low-fire technique in which ware is heated at 2,000 degrees, removed from the kiln and placed in a container. Also inside the container are combustibles such as pine needles, straw, sawdust or leaves. When a lid is placed over the container, the combustibles burn up all the oxygen, creating a multitude of colors on the ware.

"Raku was invented by the Koreans but used by the Japanese for tea ceremonies," Banning said.

Americans used the Oriental-style pottery after World War II.

"(Clay) is such a wonderful medium," Banning said. "I really enjoy it and it's such an expressive medium. It fits me."

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