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Crouching Teacher, Hidden Student: Crafting an Excellent Clay Handbuilding Class

On: January 30, 2012
In: Art Biz, Artmaking, Community, How To's, Studio Journal
Views: 1202
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Step right up and lookee here: I said YES when the enthusiastic folks at the Santa Cruz Mountains Art Center asked me if I would  be so kind –  and organized! –  as to offer a structured series of Beginning Handbuilding classes. That was a few months ago and now, here they come in just a few weeks. I better get this figured out.

I got thrown into the briarpatch at the outset, because in order to write not one course description but three of them  – Short, Long and For the Press – I needed to have my raw concepts of what these classes would be about aligned with my personal take on the ginormous field of ceramics. Nothing like starting right in.

Just what do Adult Beginners or Re-Newers want? Or need? What do I have to offer them? Could I parse this out and still keep it meaningful, soulful and artistic, for us both?

How much does my editing, formatting and delivery of this wide-ranging subject affect outcomes? I concluded it was puh-lenty and I would do well to start back at my own beginning, boil it down to the bare-boned basics and embellish prettily from there.

So what you see to the left is my long-time method of distilling knowledge: get a side table, dedicate it to the topic at hand, and proceed over the ensuing unfocused weeks to pile it high with everything which might be valuable to that cause. (It’s also how I wrote my college term papers, so I guess there’s a workable precedent in force.)

Supposedly Right-Brained Creatives respond better to horizontal, visual, tactile piled-up available information – as opposed to vertical files behind cabinet drawer-fronts –  and I agree: when I have a thought, a pertinent quote, a book, an article, a snippet of anything I suspect might be useful, I just throw it here, feeling rich and capable.

In good time, I will comb through the cornucopia and discover the inherent order there. Yes, I have a goal in mind, but the only way I realize it is to plow through and let it grab me. Inevitably the outcome is so much richer and denser than what I thought I was creating.

These stacks are certain to contain my decade-plus collection of notes and handouts from my stable of teachers too. Some of them have had genius ways of simplifying and Explaining It All….or genius techniques, genius timetables, and genius projects which I can freely channel, if not outright copy. I bow to those who gave this kind of effort before me, and I reap the harvest of their cultivation. Nobody comes out of nowhere.

And that’s really all there is to it. I’m no expert. I’m just someone who’s studied how to share and how to be a guide and to deliver substance. I’ve got some ideas on what sorts of things are good to know in the beginning and what sorts of things might logically follow.  I have theories on how to engage learners and how to aid them in discovering their own realizations and about how to foster the creative process as it relates to clay. Beyond that, what happens is what happens and I mean to stay awake to it. I’m a Hidden Student inside a Crouching Teacher.

Class Nuts and Bolts: It meets 6 Thursdays, 2-5pm, Session I: Feb 23 to March 29, Session II: April 12 – May 17 held at the Santa Cruz Mountains Art Center, 9341 Mill Street, Ben Lomond, CA,  831-3364ART.

If you’re so inclined, you can call or register online at www.MountainArtCenter.org. Class is $180 for Members/$200 Non-Members.

Next Time: A discussion of the super slo mo similarities between an illustrated ceramic process and cooking shows.

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3 Responses to Crouching Teacher, Hidden Student: Crafting an Excellent Clay Handbuilding Class

  1. […] Crouching Teacher, Hidden Student: Crafting an Excellent Clay Handbuilding Class […]

  2. Liz Crain says:

    Cassandra, I especially love how you ‘get’ this. It looks so unassembled to the uninitiated and it is SO vital to the “gathering” phase of the creative process, which I have learned to trust.

  3. Cassandra says:

    Such a great post! Good luck with your class. I”ve always found it funny how someone with a literal left brain could never find something in one of our ”creative'” piles. There’s a method to the madness…it’s just not always readily available to see!