In all of my workshops I strive for a relaxed but productive atmosphere, where participants have fun while absorbing a great deal of skills and information in a brief period of time. The short-term workshop format tends to be a very productive learning experience, since those who take time out of their own schedule to attend a workshop are generally anxious to work hard and make the most of the opportunity. I try to provide backstory to the techniques covered, and each workshop includes slide shows exploring historical and contemporary work specific to the workshop, plus a slide show about my own studio work.
In all workshops the participants receive handouts covering background, technique, and recipes. Safety issues and concerns about toxic materials are addressed as a part of every workshop.
My normal limit for a hands-on workshop is fifteen participants. Any larger and each participant gets less individual attention. There are exceptions if the studio is large enough and the venue provides competent assistants, but always check with me before admitting more than fifteen. Otherwise charge enough per person to make it profitable with fifteen or less participants. Most venues have a cutoff point beneath which it simply is not profitable to proceed with the workshop, and the number varies. I have a good record of filling workshops, but all sorts of things can affect enrollment. I would never want to see a hosting venue lose money on the deal, so before cancelling a workshop because of low enrollment, contact me and I may be willing to proceed with a reduced stipend.
I have conducted workshops in every kind of facility you can imagine, and I am resourceful in working with what is available. Required equipment and fixtures are listed on the pages for each of my workshops. Many of my workshops take place in private studios, and others in academic studios and established workshop venues. My CV includes a complete list of venues where I have taught workshops.
My workshops can be offered in formats from one to twelve days. A one-day workshop emphasizes demonstrations and slide shows with no hands on work. A two-day or three-day workshop can cover simple construction or decorating techniques with hands-on work but no firing during the workshop. I am happy to do a demo-only workshop if that is what the hosting venue requests, but long-term retention of information and technique increases dramatically in a hands-on workshop.
With the exception of “Ancient Clay” and “Developing Ceramic Surface,” where the participants do leave with some finish-fired work, my workshops focus primarily on forming and decorating methods in handbuilding and throwing rather than glazing and firing. Generally, a complete cycle of learning the techniques, making work, bisque-firing, glazing, and glaze-firing is practical only in workshops taking six days or more.
Facilities and equipment expectations listed in the individual workshop descriptions are based on workshops of five days or less, and therefore do not include accommodations for firing except in the “Ancient Clay” and “Developing Ceramic Surface” workshops.
Each workshop description features a list of facilities, equipment, and materials to be provided by the workshop venue and paid for by workshop tuition, plus a list of tools and supplies to be furnished by each workshop participant. In each case there is the option to download a PDF of that information. Clay is usually provided onsite, but it is your choice whether to have clay costs covered in the workshop tuition, or have students purchase clay by-the-bag onsite. Many workshop venues provide the first 25-pound bag or 50-pound box (included in tuition), and allow students to purchase additional clay as needed. On rare occasions, participants have the choice of buying clay onsite or bringing whatever kind of clay they like. I can work with that, but it is important to realize that shared experience and opportunities for learning are enhanced when all participants in a workshop are using the same kind of clay.
Please take very seriously the quantities of clay specified for each workshop, and always have extra on hand. It really deflates a workshop if we run out of clay. I know it is a challenge for any venue, because you do not want to get stuck with a quantity of a claybody that you don’t normally use, but in most cases the participants are happy to buy extra boxes or bags of clay to take with them.
I can do workshops at any time of year, but I travel out west every summer and usually schedule the ones west of the Rockies between mid-July and late September. All of this is flexible, and while I prefer to drive to workshop venues, I can certainly fly out west to teach a workshop in the middle of winter.
Each group of workshop participants becomes a cooperative community, and I appreciate the opportunity for relaxed conversation at potluck meals and other group gatherings. Participants are encouraged to bring slides, photos, or samples of their own studio work to show to the group.
In any of my workshops, the hosting venue is responsible for the stipend, travel expenses, room, and board. I’ll stay in a motel or hotel if you prefer, but I’d rather stay with someone in the local clay community, and that can certainly cut down your expenses. How you feed me is up to you as long as I get three decent meals a day. I am a very easy low-impact guest as long as I have my own bedroom with a comfortable bed and a reasonable level of privacy.