Strand Center Clay Studio
The Strand Center for the Arts is home to the Strand Center Clay Studio. We host classes, workshops, special events as well as open studio time. The studio is open six times per week. Previous clay experience is required to use the Open Studio. If you want clay instruction, PLEASE SIGN UP FOR A CLASS. The monthly fee to JOIN THE OPEN STUDIO is $30, which will start on the first day of the month and expire on the last day of the month. Open Studio membership includes full-use of the Open Studio facility.
Stop by the Strand Center for the Arts to tour this amazing facility.
A BIG WELCOME to Ellen O’Hara from the Clay Studio as our new substitute Studio Technician! How lucky we are to have her join us in this new role.
Ellen is new to clay-making. While always an artisan as a stained glass artist, quilter, and art appreciator, she was only able to encourage her children to enjoy clay while a busy mother and nurse. She began taking wheel classes less than 2 years ago at the Clay Studio with a goal to make perfect bowls. At the time she was still working as a Hospice nurse and her studio time was limited. However, she indeed reached her goal and makes “perfect bowls”. Now retired, she can make more bowls and experiment with glazes and stoneware clay.
Ellen has already become known as a fine potter, having shown her work in the Jay Invitational Clay Exhibition this past summer and is currently showing in the Peru Public Library’s North Country Potter’s Guild Exhibition and Sale. Come visit her at the Clay Studio and see her wonderful work. We want to thank Ellen for her volunteering position which benefits all of us who enjoy the Clay Studio.
You may email Ellen at Ellenmo66@hotmail.com
THE ART OF RAKU FIRING
After visiting Asia in the early 1950s, several University ceramic educators in California were so inspired by a remarkable fast firing technique; they investigated trying it with their contemporaries and students. The Japanese tea ceremony used for centuries, often to quell political meetings from too much Saki, decided it best to serve tea to quench the thirsty warriors. The tea ceremony serves loose tea in a ritualistic method of steps. The small tea bowls are hand made, fired quickly, making the bowl hard and vitreous within 1 hour of starting the kiln firing. An average firing is at least 7 hours with an additional 15 hours of cooling time before the pieces can be removed from the kiln.
Paul Soldner was one of the educators experimenting with the kiln building and different clay types- one that would withstand the shock of the fast firing and cooling without cracking the piece. US firing uses a glaze rich in heavy metal oxides. The glazed piece is removed at approximately 1800 degrees F and immediately placed into a metal barrel of combustible organic material like paper, dried leaves, sawdust, and pine needles. The lid is quickly placed on the barrel and the available oxygen in the barrel is burned off with the flame. The result: a wondrous metallic array of colors. Many potters use a crackle glaze to further add to the contrast of metallic glazes and allow for the dark charring of the burned combustibles to highlight the cracks.
Raku firing has been altered and perfected to be safe and more exciting with each firing. Our Raku kiln has been used since 2004 and fired over 350 loads of pottery, involving more than 3,000 pieces to be touched by the flame.