Monday, September 14, 2009

Steve Branfman Workshop

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a Steve Branfman workshop. His website can be found here: The Potter's Shop. A nice gallery of his work can be found here: here.

The lecture Thursday evening was informative and fascinating. Steve is an accomplished speaker and presenter. He likes to tell a story and listen to a story.

He shared his story about how he entered college with the idea of majoring in physical education only to change his major to the fine arts. He showed slides of his sculptures and pottery along side his growing family. My favorite shot was of his eldest son who was superimposed perfectly into a pot. It was a fluke of the camera but foretold in its own way the journey his son traversed into the world of clay.

It is no surprise then that his pottery is an extension of himself. Each piece showcases a bit of his personality.

This workshop was hands on. Friday, Steve demonstrated throwing. I usually throw with 1-3 lbs of clay but he had 12.5 lbs of clay on the wheel and challenged us to get out of our comfort zone. He also threw quite dry, which obviously would help in throwing large because the likely hood of the clay becoming soggy and falling is much less. I kept thinking, "I'm going to try that." He would first center using plenty of water, then after the mound was opened, he would dry off his sponge and his hands and proceed to dry throw. I could see how much more control he was able to give to each piece right away. He threw large jars so he pulled tall cylinders. After they were as tall as he wanted, he would texture, then make them round by using his hands, finishing the rounding with ribs. It was mesmerizing to watch.

Saturday we began the raku process in spite of the falling rain. The idea was to teach raku techniques glazed in non-traditional ways and because of the rain, we fired in non-traditional ways as well.

We were able to erect a tent outside over the gas kilns, but we also electric fired and ran the pots outside in stainless steel containers before beginning the post reduction part of the process. We all hummed a version of "Singing in the Rain" by substituting the word "Rakuing".

These three photos are the pots I walked away from the workshop with. I also was able to purchase a beautiful tea bowl which Steve made. It was an early birthday gift to myself and I will treasure it. It is similar to this one I found on his gallery: click here.

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