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Lana Wilson

June 2013

Clay: Handbuilding Plus COLOR!

Course Description
This class will be jam packed with demos, information, and laughter. Lana will demonstrate her new technique of putting down three layers of colored slips, doing sgraffito work on that colored surface, and then using a rolling pin to spread the colors. Participants will work with very soft slabs to construct forms easily and quickly, and will use stiff slabs of clay to make boxes with niches and drawers that move. The flat slabs of clay, soft or stiff, may be textured and altered or left plain. A small beveled pizza or pony roller is used for much of the construction and finishing work to yield a clean look (Lana says that “you will want a piece that looks like you meant it instead of, oh gosh, it didn’t quite work!”).
Demonstrations on some usual and unusual handles, making stamps, creating a barnacle surface, dropping clay to create patterns, etc. will be given. Lots of questions during demos are welcome and individual attention will be offered.

Then and Now
The big change in my work since I last happily taught at Shakerag is that I figured out a way to paint three layers of colored slips on my porcelain paper clay (in 2005 I was using white stoneware) and when it is dry enough, I sgraffito designs through the three layers. After I have finished the sgraffito part, I use a rolling pin on the clay to make the clay totally flat and spread the colors to yield a subtle and painterly effect. I will demo various functional forms with these colorful slabs and demo new feet for bowls and plates. I will also demo a new cup form. I have changed to porcelain paper clay because it helps to prevent cracks with my new technique (see images of this work on my webpage, I will offer making boxes again with niches and workable drawers but returning students are welcome to continue working with the colored slip technique and its many possibilities. Also new is that Nick Joerling and I will do some clay back and forth between a handbuilder and a wheel thrower. As before I will demo making stamps about 8 different ways, work from the back to make a plate, show how to make barnacles in clay, drop clay to make patterns, offer handouts on stamp making, show a one-step easy mosaic technique, demonstrate firing stainless steel welding rods with clay, hobo symbols, etc. . All demos are offered but no assignments are given. You may pursue whatever interests you, ignore what doesn’t interest you, and add your own ideas at a slow or fast clip.

Skill Level
This workshop is geared towards artists who work in any medium and welcomes participants of all levels.

Supply List for Participants
10 Xerox images of work you love whether in clay or of nature, machines, ethnic work, other mediums, and/or other artists’ work you admire
a spirit of adventure and humor to accept clay disappointments!
*packing supplies for pots to take home; we will bisque as much as we can
*handbuilding tools (bring your usual favorites and if you have room, bring texture making tools)
*pin tool
*fettling knife (Lana says that you would love having a Dolan knife, but if you don’t want to buy one more thing bring your exacto knife; both are available in the Shakerag store)
*at least two brushes, one soft and one stiff (for finishing pieces), or about 8 brushes if you have them for applying colored slips
*wooden tools for finishing
*notebook and pen
*rolling pin (there will be some in the studio, but it is very handy to have your own)
*stamps (optional, but especially handy if you want to pursue an autobiographical box), and/or things to make stamps [suggestions: square piece of wood like the end of a chopstick, Phillips head screwdriver, coral from ocean, jewelry, tiny textures, etc]
*pony roller
*T-square or triangle (very helpful for making box)
*mask to use for safety when abrading colored slips on plates (you may choose to skip this whole process)
*plastic rib for smoothing clay
Tyvek mailing envelope (only if you have it)
Optional: camera so you don’t have to take so many notes

[Lana writes: “Don’t obsess over this list. All supplies with an asterisk are available in the Shakerag store, which has a wide variety of clay tools. You will be supplied with a canvas covered board to work on, but if you prefer to work on a piece of litho blanket from an offset printing place – which is the best surface I have found for handbuilding – you can get them sometimes for free if printers are done with it and ready to throw them away.]

Artist's Biography
Lana Wilson, who is from the San Diego area, has taught over 100 workshops and been in more than 180 shows. She has had images of her work in twenty books and authored Ceramics: Shape and Surface, in addition to writing a column for Clay Times since 1996. She has been on Discovery Channel twice.

Artist's Statement

I definitely love to make stuff. For twenty years I made handbuilt pieces, adding images, layers, and some movable parts. I was greedy for complicated textures, drawers that worked, and multiple stamped layers. With my abiding interests in unusual surfaces and ritual ethnic objects, I made altars, sculptural teapots, and multi-layered mosaics.
Currently I am interested in functional ware. I paint three layers of colored slip on soft slabs, sgraffito through the layers, and use a rolling pin to flatten and spread the colors. Sometimes I carve out bits, turn them upside-down, and inlay them like fossils. These painterly slabs are used to make plates, bowls, cups, vases, and teapots.
Previous phases in my four decades of clay work have included reduction gas firing for thrown functional stoneware, metallic salts on porcelain, saggar firing utilizing eggshells and kelp, electric fired lichen-like surfaces, and glaze testing that produced unusual ceramic colors that were toxic, non-functional, and undependable but, thank goodness, very interesting. My current work is functional, plus microwave and dishwasher safe. Is this what happens when you become a grandmother?”

Artist's Website

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