Pottery summer at Edwards Place

“The experience is more than the end result.”

Ceramic artists use abrasive pads to scrub raku pieces.
Ceramic artists use abrasive pads to scrub raku pieces.

The Springfield Art Association is offering two exciting opportunities for the community to explore ceramics and pottery-making over the summer months. A kickoff event, ROASTED:%u2008Hot Pots or Pork, is June 16. A visiting potter offers several workshops and classes in June and July.

Work with a visiting potter

Southern Illinois potter CJ Niehaus will travel to Springfield this summer to offer a series of workshops. Niehaus, who admits she is a “messy” potter, becomes fully immersed in the tactile experience of working clay. “There is no separation between me and the clay.” She goes on, “The immediacy of clay lends itself to work by people at all levels – the experience is more important than the end result.”

Niehaus has been a “functional potter” for more than 20 years and has shown her work in a number of juried fine arts fairs in Eastern and Midwestern states.

While teaching at Fine Line Creative Arts Center in St. Charles, Mo., Niehaus came to enjoy the moment when a struggling student “got it.” She became interested in teaching at a local college only to learn that, in spite of a B.A. in art therapy from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, post-graduate study in ceramics at Xavier University and at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and her years of experience both working with clay and teaching the craft in the community, she had to have an MFA to teach in a formal setting. Niehaus enrolled in the ceramics program at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. Now entering her final year at SIU, Niehaus says she has been exposed to new firing techniques and has become more interested in “altered” pottery styles.

Artist CJ Niehaus holds a finished piece.
Artist CJ Niehaus holds a finished piece.
The first Niehaus workshop, “Beginning Wheel Throwing” begins June 30. The workshop explores the use of the potter’s wheel for centering, opening, pulling, shaping and trimming clay.

Experienced potters will want to take advantage of the five-week “Achieving Great Finishes in Clay” class beginning July 11. This class explores the use of terra sig and burnishing, slips and carving, resists, underglazes and underglaze pencils.

July 14 marks the beginning of a four-day “Pit Firing” workshop exploring the oldest form of pottery firing. Participants will learn the history of pit firing, basic methods of clay construction, use of oxides and methods for pit firing.

“Transforming Clay Forms” begins on July 19. This three-week class teaches methods for merging various pottery techniques into one piece. Techniques covered include decorative sprigging, pushing, pulling, beating and darting.

A two-day workshop on Majolica, a pottery form dating from the Renaissance, begins on July 24. This offering, which requires no experience to attend, explores basic methods of clay construction and methods of glazing.

For those potters who create jugs, pots or cups requiring handles, Niehaus will offer a two-day “Get a Handle On It” workshop beginning July 25. This workshop teaches the different forms of drinking and pouring vessels, basic methods of handle construction, and methods for attaching handles to cups, mugs and pitchers.

If you love the eye-catching metallic iridescence of Raku pottery, you’ll want to be on hand for Niehaus’ four-day Raku workshop beginning on July 28. This workshop gives participants an opportunity to explore the shapes and textures enhanced by this ancient Japanese form and to glaze and fire a pot using Raku techniques.

To learn more about ROASTED or CJ Niehaus’ classes and workshops, contact Erin Svendsen at 217-523-2631. Examples of Niehaus’ work can be found by searching Christopher Klaus’ photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/68504751@N00/.

ROASTED: Hot Pots & Pork

The grounds at Edwards Place will be the center of activity on Saturday, June 16, when the Springfield Art Association hosts ROASTED: Hot Pots and Pork from 4 to 8 p.m. This family-friendly event is for anyone interested in learning more about ceramics and is a great opportunity for kids to come out and create a gift for Father’s Day. Attendees may choose from more than 100 pots crafted by SAA ceramics instructors, apply a glaze and watch demonstrations as their pots are fired by the SAA instructors and ceramics team using smoke, pit or raku styles. Unfired pots range from the elegant to the whimsical, each awaiting a unique glaze to bring out the “magic” of their design.

For those who would like to just enjoy the summer evening while their pot is being fired, ROASTED includes a full dinner featuring a Hickory River Smokehouse roasted pig, music by the Pleasure Chest Blues Band and a cash beer bar provided by Northender. Tickets for the entire evening are $20 per person. Proceeds benefit the SAA School of Art.

To learn more about ROASTED or CJ Niehaus’ classes and workshops, contact Erin Svendsen at 217-523-2631. Examples of Niehaus’ work can be found by searching Christopher Klaus’ photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/68504751@N00/.   –Grace Sweatt

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  • Blind Date with a Book

    @ Springfield Art Association

    Mondays-Fridays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Continues through Feb. 27