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Janson Pottery Blog

~ Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Haliburton School for the Arts Workshop with Jessica Steinhauser

At the beginning of May, I attended a workshop called “Contemporary Design & Traditional Techniques” in beautiful Haliburton, Ontario with the lovely and talented Jessica Steinhauser of “Stonehouse Pottery” in Guelph, Ontario. 

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For some time now, I have wanted a week away to just hang out with clay and not focus on anything in particular.  This workshop proved to be very satisfying for me. Since completing my ceramics program, I have tried to make slips (liquid clay mixed with colourants) and have never had great success with them. I have wanted to explore them on a more in- depth level. There are many ways to make slips and I am always looking for the easiest route.  Jessica showed us how she makes her slips. She dries out the clay, adds colourants, screens them, and voila – we had slips for decorating.

Jessica was very giving with information. She seems to be a very self assured potter because she was willing to share anything she knew with us. Some potters are not so forthcoming with information, as they are concerned that their work will be copied.  Realistically, such work could never be duplicated in its entirety because even though the techniques/forms are similar, the human touch by which the artist uses will always create a unique signature.

Jessica is one of the most amazing throwers (working on a wheel) I have ever seen and she was willing to show us any form that we were interested in. Of course, I came up with any form that I have ever struggled with making and put it on the list that was up for the week that we were there.

We worked on different forms throughout the week, participated in making slips and decorating them. Towards the end of the week, we fired our coloured test tiles to have a better idea of what the end result would be because the colours do change once they are fired.  Jessica demonstrated her decorating techniques and she had us marveling at how easy it looked.

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All in all, fun was had by everyone. By the end of the week, we were out enjoying the spring weather during lunch sharing stories, and enjoying each other’s company.

I am looking forward to my next week long adventure in clay.


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