Friday, April 11, 2008

Visiting Artist

As I mentioned before, we had a visiting artist at the University last weekend - Willi Eggerman. It was awesome! Better than NCECA - for one thing, it was free for the students (funded by the school), second, it was more personal. I sat no more than 10 ft away from her and asked questions left & right. Third, since the group was pretty small we ended up doing some hands-on work and having a quick group critique of each other's work. I didn't benefit as much from this, but I know some other students did and I was grateful for the experience. What did she demonstrate? ...

Throwing. She says she isn't very good at it, which is kind of encouraging. She makes beautiful pots, so it's nice to know that you don't need to be a perfect potter to be a great artist.

Tripod pots. It's something she's been making for several years now, and she still enjoys making them (perhaps goblets will become that thing for me, something I never tire of).

Slab built teapots. She first rolls a slab with a good ol' rolling pin, then rolls her hand-made stamps into it, and makes it into a cylinder. Since she stretches them, she doesn't wait for the slabs to set up, and since they're becoming cylinders anyway, they'll stand up easily without the slab being stiff.

Leaf-like bowls. A technique she learned from a Julia Galloway workshop, she pinches the lip and foot rims all around to give it an organic appearance.

Water etching with lacquer. Wax is commonly painted on bone-dry pots to make a design that will be etched away using water and a sponge. Instead, Willi uses clear lacquer because it isn't washed away as easily as wax and it gives a more crisp line.

Incising / mishima. This was similar to the way that Lorna Meaden was decorating her cups at the NCECA deomstration, using an exacto knife to make thin lines. The important trick to remember is to first water down the slip to make sure it runs down into the thin lines, then apply thicker slip to give it the color you want. The other thing she did differently than Lorna was wipe away the last bit of slip with a sponge. It sounds like Willi actually heard about first scraping away the slip with a rib from someone who saw Lorna's demonstration. See how useful demonstrations are? :-D

Faceting cups using a paring knife. A few things she did to her pots were similar to preparing food. It looks like she could be peeling an orange in this picture. When she was pinching the rims of the bowl, she said it was sort of like pinching the edges of scones.
So that's a wrap up of the weekend, both days 10 am - 4 pm. Willi and her wonderful assistant stayed at a lovely bed & breakfast called the Sod Buster Inn. Highly recommended! Cozy, friendly, and a delicious breakfast.

If anyone's reading this who is a student, teacher, or administrator at any type of school, find a way to host a visiting artist. They are inspirational, educational, and otherwise awesome.


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