It’s a kiln rodeo over here in the studio. Since Friday, I’ve been running the kilns non-stop- unloading one and firing up the other in a continuous cycle to keep up with my crazy schedule. In the immortal words of one of my students, “it’s all good!” Since I last wrote I taught a glass jewelry making workshop (Spring Bling!) for 7 students at the museum. It went well, all my students were wonderful and brought their own personal talents and enthusiasm and joy with them.
I’m always so amazed at how each student works so differently from the next. I have some who spend the entire 3 hours making 2 or 3 pieces, each wonderful in their planning, calculation and execution. Then I have my “glass factories” who sit down and crank out piece after piece with free and wild abandon, all delightful. I wish I were so free in my art making! This class had a wonderful combination of both.
I’m just about getting over my stage fright around teaching (took long enough.) Until these past couple of classes the energy exchange was always in one direction- out. I would feel so drained after each class. My mother, a teacher for 54 years who was teacher of the year once (it skips a generation) said she always felt energized and nourished by her students, and I made that my goal. All the teachers I ever had, Mikhail Zakin in particular always seemed so happy and jazzed by their students, always learning from them. I’m trying to be that free and open but it doesn’t come naturally. This time was better than the last, I fed off the happiness floating around the room. Many of my students get the class as a gift from loved ones, something they’d never give themselves, for others it’s the only time they have just to themselves to do something that doesn’t have to do with a family obligation. And some, to put delicately, I get the impression that they’ve been sent by family members to get them out from underfoot. I love them all and try my best to give them a great time.
Anyway, these workshops are always a trip. Students make dozens and dozens of little tiny pieces that I need to fire at least once in my kiln, sometimes twice. Usually too much for my little kiln and too little for my big one. This is the way my life works. But it’s way cheaper to run my little kiln twice than once in the big one so the decision was easy, at least in this case. The tricky part is trying to keep straight who made what, especially after the firing when everything changes shape and sometimes even color. Ayiyi.
I give my students each a tupperware with a lid and make them write their name on both. They put their work in and when I get to my studio I put it all on their lids with names visible and take a picture. Then I try to arrange them on shelves in patterns so I know where each grouping begins and ends and write it down. Then the fun begins because by that time I usually have a glass of wine in my hand and get great ideas about switching things around. OMG. After the firing using the pictures (cell phone works best cause I can enlarge the images) I try to sort everything and get them to the correct party.
Anyway, this class produced enough ware for 2 loads, 3 shelves each in the little kiln, the first firing went well and it took me an entire hour to figure out which was who’s and get them straight and set up for the next load. Hopefully the 2nd load will come out as wonderful as the first, which does not require a fire polish firing. PHEW!
Here are some pictures of the madness before loading the kiln.