Molding artists

Workshop curriculum grows at Ceramic Design Group


Ceramic Design Group isn't just for pot throwers any more.

Last week, a group of five artists and two cats gathered around the enormous table at the center of Jonathan Kaplan's newly renovated and expanded clay studio tucked into a warehouse on Twentymile Road. They showed off the studio's newfound educational diversity and a certain bubble of excitement.

"We want to be the Steamboat art center -- the center of Steamboat art, where people come and bring their kids," said Annie Chrietzberg, artist in residence at Ceramic Design Group.

This summer, Ceramic Design group's expanding teaching staff will debut a new series of workshops, many of which tie back to clay in one form or another.

Aspiring artists can bring out their broken dishes, found objects and interesting treasures to join Kathy Main's "Marvelous Mosaics" class. Showing off a large picture frame decorated with fragments of red and blue tiles, Main said she has been doing this for five years. Now, students will have the opportunity to learn her techniques and glean her ideas, starting with making a mosaic flowerpot.

"The sky will be the limit once they learn how to do it," Main said.

The brainstorming faculty suggested students could create mosaics on anything from cat and dog tombstones to birdbaths, garage sale furniture, picture frames, trays or birdhouses during the five-week session. Materials will be provided, but students are encouraged to bring anything else they might want to add.

Keeping with the quirkier side of ceramics, Jody Elston will teach "Altars, shrines and other special boxes," a class for "potters who want to be a lot more whimsical with their work," she said. Using a slab-built box as the "vessel for ideas," students will use hinges, latches and possibly "unconventional mantras to ward off baldness ... or maybe just birdhouses, depending upon what they want to do," Elston said.

Elston also is teaching "Passionate Platters," a two-session workshop that requires no experience and lets students make their own platters and "shamelessly decorate them in the majolica technique," Elston said. Majolica is a glazing technique that involves bright colors painted on a white background. It originated in the Mediterranean where they only had red terra cotta clay and wanted to re-create the white porcelain pottery that was coming from Asia.

"They'll leave the class with at least two beautiful platters -- a deal at $65," Elston said.

Julie Anderson, who has been teaching beginning ceramics classes for three years at Ceramic Design Group, will give students a hands-on experience in the decorative methods she uses to create her signature, intricately carved ceramics. For experienced potters, Anderson is teaching a five-week class on how to alter and carve forms after throwing them on the wheel.

Anderson also will lead a mixed-level decorative tile-making class that covers the technical aspects of preventing warped tiles, firing and glazing. Anderson's class will include making tile molds to create repeating patterns, functional for home use.

Children 8 and older will have a chance to throw pots this summer. In June there is a monthlong workshop of weekend clay exploration with Colleen Lyon.

On the more technical side, studio guru Kaplan is teaching a class called "Glaze fundamentals for the electric kiln, Cone 4-6" in hopes of luring owners of the many electric kilns scattered throughout the county to come together and "exploit what the kiln can do," he said. Kaplan said he would make ceramic chemistry more accessible.

"It's for the math and chemistry challenged," Kaplan said. Kaplan also will teach students how to use inexpensive and readily available glaze calculation software that is available for PC and Mac.

And for anyone who wanted to know how Chrietzberg built the forms she now has on display at the "Thermodynamic" show at the Depot Art Center, she's teaching a hand-building workshop to show students how to turn a two-dimensional shape into 3D.

Chrietzberg also will teach two "jewelry jamboree" sessions limited to 10- to 15-year-old girls. Girls will learn how to use tools such as the drill press, rubber mallets, bench pins, files and ring clamps while they make hemp necklaces, birdcage and hoop earrings, brooches and rings. Adding to Ceramic Design Group's growing jewelry repertoire, Samantha Graham will teach a beading workshop in July.

Ceramic Design Group also has visiting artists on the horizon. Tom Vroman, a contemporary of Norman Rockwell will spend the summer in Steamboat Springs and will teaching a watercolor workshop in June. Paul Lewing will teach a hands-on china painting workshop in September, and ceramist Richard Notkin will lead a limited hands-on workshop called "Ceramic Sculpture, Concept and Technique" in November. Lewing and Notkin plan to give public slide-show lectures at the Depot Art Center the night before the start of their respective workshops.

Most classes start in June and sign-ups are under way through the Ceramic Design Group.


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